Concerned Hendricks County residents hear about growing heroin problem

Elliott Hughes, 23 (WTHR photo)
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"When I was growing up, you didn't hear anything about it," said Elliott Hughes as he talked about the drug heroin.

That's something the 23-year-old Plainfield High School graduate can't say today.

"I can sit there and count five people in the past two years that I either played sports with or hung out with on a fairly consistent basis that are no longer here [because of] heroin," said Hughes, who admitted he could very well have been one of those people.

Hughes is a recovering heroin addict who said he started using his senior year of high school.

"I had no idea it would take my life by storm like it did. I'm lucky to be here," said Hughes.

That's one of the reasons Hughes gathered at a meeting with almost 100 others from Hendricks County Thursday to hear about how heroin use is a growing problem in Hendricks County like in other places across the state.

"Heroin has taken over," said Sergeant Todd North with the Plainfield Police Department. "It is an epidemic. We deal with it probably on a daily basis."

Hendricks County law enforcement said it's to the point where not a week goes by that they don't see at least one heroin overdose.

"What we're seeing is younger folks experiencing the effect of the use of heroin just like the other counties are. We're seeing it younger and younger," said Hendricks County Superior Court Judge Mark Smith.

Judge Smith oversees the county's drug court and said the heroin users he sees in his court are mostly men in their early 20's.

"It does surprise me to hear folks - even with all the media coverage - to still express how surprised they are that we do have a heroin issue in Hendricks County," said Judge Smith.

An issue, for right now though, it seems, isn't going anywhere.

"It's a community problem. It can be handled by a community," Sergeant North told concerned Hendricks County citizens.

The first step said Elliott Hughes is admitting there's a problem.

"I think it's definitely been hidden," said Hughes.

It's at the point now though said experts in Hendricks County, where it can't be hidden anymore.

According to Hendricks County recovery experts, there were 20 deaths in the county last year from heroin overdoses.