The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

February 1, 2008

Methadone abuse on the rise locally

The word “meth” remains the same as the drug of choice for abusers in Daviess County, but the letters after it have changed.

Many involved in the local war on drugs say that methadone, not methamphetamine, is starting to be dominant drug of choice in the area.

“I don’t know what to do,” Pete Aldrich, director of Lighthouse Recovery Center, said. “I know we need help.”

Aldrich, himself a recovering addict, said many, as many as two-thirds, in his program are recovering from pharmaceutical drug abuse, like methadone.

“All the people coming off the street (and into the Lighthouse) are using opiates,” Aldrich said.

Like Jacob Auberry.

Auberry was found dead in his cell at the Daviess County Security Center on Nov. 21. After an autopsy that day, toxicology reports showed that Auberry had died from an accidental methadone overdose. The Indiana State Police said during its investigation Auberry did not have a prescription for the methadone.

Nationally, methadone abuse was highlighted in the death of Anna Nicole Smith in 2007. Her son also died from a combination of drugs that included methadone in 2006.

Aldrich claims that 39 people in the area have died from methadone overdoses. The Times-Herald could not independently verify the claim. He said he has talked with family members of those who died, and while most said drug abuse played a part, they did not want to go further.

“They don’t want to put it in the paper because they said ‘They’re gone, they’re dead, let’s forget it,’” Aldrich said.

Detective Lt. Gary Allison of the Daviess County Sheriffs Department said the number of methadone overdoses are probably lower than Aldridge’s estimates.

“Last year, we probably had six or seven deaths that was probably attributed to methadone,” Allison said.

But that is still high for a rural county, he said. Allison said drug users are selling methadone, but it is not replacing methamphetamine because of the differences between the two drugs.

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