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Why 'Gateway to Hope' added straws to the program

The drug of choice is changing on the streets of Greater Lafayette and so is the method. More people are snorting now. This has the Tippecanoe County Health Department adding straws to its harm reduction kit.

Posted: Aug 28, 2018 5:48 PM
Updated: Aug 28, 2018 6:32 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Clean straws have been available to Gateway to Hope participants since the spring of this year.

"But we just now really started pushing them because we are seeing more increase in our area," said Nursing Supervisor Khala Hochstedler. 

There's a reason more people are starting to snort instead of use needles.

"A lot of them are terrified of shooting up heroin because there has been so many overdose deaths that they have started snorting their heroin," said Hochstedler. "There was a myth going around town that if you snorted your heroin that you couldn't OD on it."

However, that isn't the case. You can overdose on drugs no matter how you use them. Another local trend is switching from heroin to meth.

"They are really proud of themselves for not using heroin," said Hochstedler. "But then meth is just one more drug that we need to work together in finding resources for treatment."

If you start using meth, medication assisted therapy like methadone won't work for you.

"It's kind of sad too because the Methadone Clinic just opened," said Hochstedler.

Lafayette police agree, the use of meth is definitely increasing in the city. Cocaine is on its way back too.

"Drugs are always changing. It's a money game" said Lafayette Police Lt. Tim Payne. "And so when the federal government has gone around and made lots of programs to help fight the opioid epidemic, it's our theory that the people pushing out the drugs know this."

The health department said it would like to stop drug use altogether but its realistic goal is to decrease the spread of disease. Clean straws could help.

"Through your nose, you have blood vessels," said Hochstedler. "So, if you're passing the straw and you take a hit and your friend takes a hit and you're using the same straw you can still spread blood-borne pathogen that way."

This trend isn't specific to Tippecanoe County, it's happening across the state.

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