Police: Opana still drug of choice for addicts in Austin, Indiana

AUSTIN, Ind. (WDRB) -- She calls it the 'only drug of choice' in Austin, Indiana. The 26-year-old Opana addict agreed to talk to WDRB about the drug if we didn't reveal her identity. 

"It's pretty easy...very easy," she said about getting Opana. "Everybody around here knows where they're at." 

Health officials say the HIV epidemic centered in Scott County was fueled by addicts sharing needles to shoot up Opana. 

It's a powerful pain killer, prescribed by doctors. 

"We've restricted the access and the abuse of prescription drugs," Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said during a press conference in Scott County Tuesday. 

He says his office has shut down so-called 'pill mills' and gone after doctors who over-prescribe and now a shortage of painkillers is causing a demand for heroin. 

But local health officials estimate roughly 85 percent of the people using the needle exchange in Austin are still addicted to Opana. 

"We've really had a hard time kind of zeroing in on the supply chain but it is something that my office and let's say others are actively involved with," Zoeller told WDRB News. 

Austin Police Chief Donald Spicer says he thinks at least some of the pills are coming from out of state, though long term drug investigations are difficult for his department. Spicer says he should have double the amount of officers. 

"Until we turn from six to twelve (officers) I just can't see us making a big difference or putting a big dent in it," Spicer said about the drug problem. "We're just struggling everyday to do the best we can with what we have." 

Finding the dealers and their sources is key. 

Where are the prescription pills that are feeding so many addictions coming from? 

"I know there's a number of people that are looking at where the oversupply is coming from so, but that's something that I'm not quite at liberty to talk about," Zoeller said. 

Heroin is considered much cheaper than pills. 

The addict we spoke with says she typically will only buy portions of a pill. A full pill can cost more than $100. 

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.