EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)- It may not look like much, but it can help save a life. Throughout Evansville, groups like the Evansville Recovery Alliance are trying to spread the word about Narcan while making the powerful antidote more available.

After a year where Vanderburgh County saw a record number of overdose deaths, Karen Warpenburg with the Evansville Recovery Alliance suggests people should take it anywhere they go, including their glovebox or purse.

The main culprit? Fentanyl. Data from the Vanderburgh County Coroner’s office shows that fentanyl or drug combinations including the opioid accounted for roughly 60 percent of the overdose deaths in 2021. Warpenburg says most of the illicit drugs on the market in Evansville have fentanyl, but users may not be aware of what their actually buying.

Warpenburg says it’s important to dispel myths that surround fentanyl and Narcan- including Narcan’s efficacy in treating fentanyl overdoses. Warpenburg says it’s also important to know that it’s safe to administer Narcan to someone overdosing on fentanyl.

The Vanderburgh County Health Department says drug misuse by itself is not a diagnosis, but rather a part of a larger personal problem, including anxiety or depression. Lynn Herr says to treat and prevent drug misuse, providers need to treat “the whole person,” and provide the best care and outcomes for people and their families to break the generational cycle of misuse.

Evansville City Councilman and Republican nominee for the District 2 Vanderburgh County Commission Justin Elpers says the problem stems from a national issue on the border but adds the issue can be treated aggressively on the local level by “throwing the book” at dealers and educating children, as young as elementary school students, about the dangers of drug misuse.

Still, Warpenburg says there are other areas she’d like to see lawmakers focus on- including free syringes and safe use sites that she says have proven successful in curbing overdose deaths in other areas of the country.