Heroin abuse and hepatitis C infections are at epidemic levels in Boone County, local officials told several dozen people attending an Indiana Youth Institute Kids Count 2015 data workshop Tuesday at the Lebanon Public Library.

“We have a heroin epidemic in Boone County,” Sheriff Mike Nielsen said. Cindy Murphy, RN, administrator of the Boone County Health Department, said 40 percent of people who come to the agency’s sexually transmitted diseases clinics admit that they use intravenous drugs.

“We have a hepatitis C epidemic because of IV drug abuse,” Murphy said.

Emily Krauser, an IYI data analyst, outlined the Kids Count 2015 findings, which are based on information gleaned from dozens of sources.

Because no county-level drug abuse information is available, though, Krauser said IYI used information for the central Indiana region.

That data shows a decrease in some forms of drug abuse, but an increase in prescription drug use and tobacco use among high school students, she said. The survey of high school seniors is also subject to skewing because if a student is not interviewed, the information cannot be included.

Extrapolating that information to mean there is no drug problem in Boone County is misleading, Nielsen said.

“This is probably true for the high school seniors group, but among 19-to-30-year-olds, it’s a different story,” he said.

See Thursday's Lebanon Reporter for more on this story.

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