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'I have lost family members': Community leaders gather to raise awareness about overdose crisis

Organizers said Floyd County saw 6 overdoses just this past weekend.

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — The overdose crisis is an ongoing problem in Kentuckiana and across the country.

Leaders said it's going to take community support and action from officials to make true change. 

Community leaders met at Park Christian Church in New Albany to raise awareness about the overdose crisis facing Southern Indiana counties, and to encourage people to step up. 

"We need help. We need help to end this," Tony Hostetler, a leader with Hoosier Action, an outreach organization, said. "It's going to take a community to move to shape us to fix this problem." 

Organizers said Floyd County saw 6 overdoses just this past weekend. 

"I have lost family members. I have lost my husband, and my daughter's life, as well as everyone else's sons and daughters' are at risk every single day,"  Tracy Skaggs, director of Project Recovery, said.

Credit: Ian Lewis, WHAS11

Hoosier Action and other outreach organizations want everyone to carry Narcan, an overdose reversing tool.

"I wish to God I would've had the Narcan when my brother was going through the things he was going through, because I would've had my bestfriend here," Julie Steed, a member of Project Recovery, said.

Organizers handed out Narcan to nearly everyone in attendance, about 100 people. They are also calling on New Albany's governor to do more. 

Hoosier Action has three goals: require all first responders to carry Narcan, equip at least 10 organizations with Narcan, and increase the number of syringe disposals.

City Council President Jason Applegate said they're taking several preventative steps, including investing millions in health and wellness, but more can be done. 

"Once we get these 10 businesses, we check those 10 off and say hey let's go get 10 more," Applegate said.

It's a move community members want to see, to save one life at a time. 

"This is something that can be addressed by treating every individual that suffering from this as an individual and giving them dignity of life," Gabe Pfefer, Hoosier Action Member and Park Christian Church Pastor, said.

"It impacts the long term mental health of our community, for not only the people who have lost and have been grieving family members, but also the moms and dads who are just waiting for that phone call that they never want to happen, that anxiety on people really impacts all of us," Will Stauffer with Hoosier Action said.

Hoosier Action will hold its next meeting Thursday, Oct. 27.

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Contact reporter Bobbi McSwine at bmcswine@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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