Indianapolis is the largest city in Indiana and it is the county seat of Marion County. Located in the northeast central region of the U.S., Indianapolis has a population of 853,000. It was founded in 1821 and was platted by Alexander Ralston and Elias Fordham on a mere 1-square-mile grid of land adjacent to the White River. After completion of the National Road, the city began to grow. The city is within a single day’s drive to 70% of the nation, lending it the nickname “Crossroads of America.” Many cultural institutions are located in Indianapolis, such as the Children’s Museum, the Indiana Landmarks and the Indianapolis Zoo. A study from the Indiana University School of Public Health found that addiction rates of opioid users are critical in the state and many fatalities have occurred here. WishTV reported that Indiana was 15th in the U.S. for drug overdose fatalities. The study also found that the epidemic and problem could affect the state’s economic growth potential.
The county seat of Allen County Indiana is Fort Wayne. This city is 18 miles west of the Ohio border and 50 miles south of Michigan. Around 260,000 people call this city home. During the Revolutionary War, statesman Anthony Wayne directed the building of Fort Wayne, which was a series of forts near the Miami tribe village. Named in Wayne’s honor, many European immigrants settled here. The town was platted in 1823 and underwent much growth after the Wabash and Erie Canal was completed. According to the Drug and Alcohol Consortium of Allen County, Fort Wayne has a drug and alcohol epidemic. Around 29% of high school seniors admitted to binge drinking during the last year. In addition, another 10% reported frequent drinking. The consequences of alcohol abuse are injurious to young brains that have not finished developing. In Allen County, there were 88 alcohol-induced deaths from 2001 to 2005 alone and many of the victims were under-aged.
A city in Vanderburgh County, Evansville, has 118,000 people. Located in southern Indiana, this city is the medical, commercial, and cultural hub of the state’s southwestern region. Situated on an oxbow in the Ohio River, Evansville, IN is often called the “Crescent Valley.” The area was inhabited by various cultures dating back 10,000 years, with Angel Mounds being a permanent settlement of the Mississippian culture from 1000 AD to 1400 AD. Evansville has a broad economic base with four NYSE companies headquartered here (Berry Plastics, Accuride, Vectren and Springleaf). The average family size is 2.91, and the city is 82% white. A report by the Southern District of the Department of Justice cites Evansville as a recent area of various drug trafficking organizations. The Drug Enforcement Administration Evansville Drug Task Force and the local Police Department worked with other agencies to combat drug dealing and violence. During the 2016 investigation, 23 pounds of methamphetamine, 10 pounds of marijuana, 11 firearms and several thousand ecstasy pills were seized.
A city and county seat of St. Joseph County, South Bend Indiana has around 101,000 residents. The city is located near the St. Joseph River’s southernmost bend, which is where the name “South Bend” is derived. Just north of South Bend is the University of Notre Dame, which helps generate part of the city’s economy. Originally settled in the early 1800s by fur traders, South Bend was established as a city in 1865. The population peaked in 1960 at 132,445, then declined slowly. Today, the largest industries are education, small business, health care and tourism. Notable employers are the Memorial Health System, South Bend Community School Corporation, Martin’s Super Markets, AM General, Beacon Medical Group, Crowe Horwath and Schurz Communications. According to an NBC News brief, South Bend has seen an HIV “epidemic” fueled by needle-sharing opiate addicts. Mike Pence visited the area and declared a public health emergency in 2016, after 72 people were infected. Heroin is being used by many who started out taking prescription pain killers.
Carmel is a suburban city located in Hamilton County, Indiana. The city is immediately north of Indianapolis and is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. In 2012, CNN Money magazine cited Carmel as one of the Best Places to Live in the U.S. Today, 86,000 people reside in Carmel. IN. Originally called Bethlehem, the city was platted in 1837. Quakers were the original settlers and the town was renamed Carmel in 1846. Today, the racial makeup of Carmel is 85% white, 3% African-American, 9% Asian, 2.5% Latino, and the remaining 1% “other”. The average family size in the city is 3.17. The Carmel Police Department and Boone County Drug Task Force report a heroin increase in 2008. The drug epidemic continues to threaten the stability of the community. Former pain patients are now turning to heroin, which is more affordable than pills. According to Current in Carmel, law enforcement officers have seen a drop by 50% in the price of heroin over the last 3-4 years. This is attributed to the trafficking of heroin from Mexico via cartels and gangs.
The county seat of Monroe County Indiana is Bloomington, which is located in the southern part of the state. Bloomington is known as the “Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana.” Established as a city in 1818 by a group of southern settlers, the group was so impressed by a “haven of blooms” that they called the area Bloomington. Approximately 84,000 people live in this city, which is an increase of 4,000 since 2010. Home to the Indiana University Bloomington, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Indianan University School for Informatics, and the Indiana University School of Education, the town is known as a college city. The average family size is 2.76, with 17% of homes having children under age 18 in them. In 2013, Trust for America’s Health showed that Indiana had the 17th highest overdose mortality rate in the U.S. The rate for Indiana is 14.4 per 100,000 persons. The majority of overdose deaths in the state of IN are from prescription drugs with the rate quadrupling since 1999.
Hammond, Indiana is in Lake County, and considered part of the Chicago Metropolitan region. With a population of 81,000, Hammond within the boundaries of Lake Chicago, and has a layer of black topsoil that is several inches thick. Other waterways include Lake George, Grand Calumet River, Little Calumet River, Lake Michigan and Wolf Lake. The racial makeup of Hammond is 60% white, 23% African-American, 1% Asian and 16% “other” or “two or more races.” The median age is 33.3 years and 27.6% of residents are age 18 or younger. According to the Journal Gazette, nearly $1 million has been awarded to the state of Indiana to fight the abuse and distribution of opioids and methamphetamine. The increase in money is due to the rise in drug-related death rates in Indiana cities like Hammond. In 2014 alone, there were 462 opioid-related deaths, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In Gary, IN, 81,000 people reside. Located 25 miles from downtown Chicago, Illinois, Gary is in Lake County. The city of Gary is adjacent to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and it borders Lake Michigan. Known for large steel mills, Gary is known as the birthplace of the Jackson 5 music group. Several sports franchises are based in the city, such as the Gary SouthShore RailCats (American Association professional baseball team) and the Gary Splash (International Basketball League). The Indiana Economics Digest reports there has been 38 homicides in the first half of 2015 alone, which is a 58% increase from 2014. Going along with the murder rates in Chicago, IL, Gary, IN also has a serious drug problem. Police estimate that 60% of the year’s homicides were drug-related.
In Lafayette, the county seat of Tippecanoe County Indiana, 67,000 people reside. The city is northwest of Indianapolis and southeast of Chicago. Of the 67,000 households, 29% of homes have children in them. Additionally, the average family size is 3. The economy of Lafayette and the surrounding region is centered around academic and industrial activities of Purdue University. The gender makeup is 49 men to 51 women. In the city, private industries include Subaru of Indiana, Wabash National, Caterpillar, Alcoa, Evonik and Tate & Lyle. WFLI discussed the prescription painkiller problem in Tippecanoe County, while heroin and cocaine are still as prevalent as ever. A local doctor reports that personal responsibility and accountability are the key ways to prevent drug abuse. Additionally, in this county alone, there were 5 overdose deaths in one week which were all due to heroin.