Report: Drug overdose deaths quadruple in Indiana

La Verna Lodge in Shelby County helps women fight addiction.
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Startling statistics from a national study released this week, show deaths from drug overdose have quadrupled in Indiana since 1999.

Not only are those numbers growing, but so are female victims - women specifically getting hooked on prescription pills.

Like a growing number of Hoosier women, Nikki Heck's path to addiction started with pain. She was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 23. Her doctor prescribed Vicodin to reduce pain from the seizures.

"A lot of people don't think they have a problem because it's a prescription," Heck explained.

But pills from her doctor became a big problem.

"Before I knew it, I was up to ten a day. Then I was up to 20 a day," Heck said.

Eventually, she says she was taking as many as 70 pills a day at age 32. She barely survived an overdose in March.

"My mom found me. I was laying on my couch. My face was completely blue," Heck said.

It's a scenario repeated far too often lately and often with deadly results in Indiana. A study, from the Trust for America's Health, found drug overdose deaths have quadrupled in Indiana since 1999.

Prescription drug abuse in women is alarming too. More are killed from overdose than car crashes.

"It actually is a very scary statistic to read," said Robin Parsons, Fairbanks Director of Adult Services.

But the statistics aren't surprising for the folks at Fairbanks, who help people recover.

"We have been seeing more and more prescription drug dependence almost running neck and neck with alcohol dependence. We've seen an increase in women seeking treatment over the years. It's a very slippery slope and for a lot of women, they don't realize they're on that slope until it's too late," Parsons said.

That's why Fairbanks just opened a new treatment option, just for women.

La Verna Lodge in Shelby County is a longer-term residential recovery center, where women stay at least 30 days. It focuses on the entire person - physical, emotional and spiritual health.

"This is so that women have a safe secure place to come and spend the time to really heal from all the issues related to their addiction," Parsons explained.

It's a path to recovery Nikki knows well. She was treated through Fairbanks and welcomes the new options for other women struggling with addiction.

"I feel great. I've never felt better in my entire life and that is the honest truth," Heck said. "Fairbanks saved my life."

She's now six months clean and sharing her story to help others, before they become a statistic.

"Don't hit rock bottom like I did and lose everything when you have a chance to get yourself better and have a happy life," she said.

Treating prescription drug addiction