Wednesday night, Eyewitness News continued our “A Community in Pain” initiative in partnership with the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office and the Mayor’s Substance Abuse Task Force. The initiative is aimed at addressing the opioid crisis in the Tri-State. Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann spoke with Brad Byrd on the crisis.

Here’s a transcription of the interview:

Brad Byrd: We are here at the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office in the call center which usually serves as the grand jury room here in the Civic Center. We’re taking a look tonight at a growing problem affecting pregnant women who are addicted to opioids and other substances. Joining me right now is Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann. We’re taking a look at this new 10-bed facility for those addicted to opioids. This will be an alternative for these women, an alternative to jail.

Nick Hermann: Well, I think it’s a great opportunity to open a facility like this and address this need. You obviously have a mother who is addicted to drugs but you also have children that are born addicted. So you have a huge need on both sides. This is a great way to address that.

BB: That’s right. 30 babies at Deaconess last year alone were addicted to opioids. With that being said, is enough being done with programs like this? Or could we use another 150 beds to help women who may be facing this type of addiction?

NH: We could always use more. Like you said, we had 30 at Deaconess… you had St. Mary’s as well. There’s a lot of people in this area that have this need and to be able to provide this, I think, is great. The community is really stepping up with this and trying to address it. It’s a multi-faceted problem and the real solution involves all of us getting involved.

BB: And this obviously has an indirect effect on your office and the incarceration of individuals at the Vanderburgh County Detention Center.

NH: It’s not uncommon for judges to incarcerate women who are pregnant and severely addicted – to try to protect that child and make sure the child isn’t born addicted. Having a resource available to address that outside of a confinement setting, it’s good for everyone.

BB: Well, not mentioning any names, but I asked some of our experts who are taking calls. They are getting a lot of calls from people concerned about getting their legally prescribed pain medication taken away from them. What do you say to them?

NH: Obviously this is a huge problem and is getting a lot of attention due to the number of people overdosing and the lives lost. That being said, if you have someone on a medically prescribed, doctor prescribed prescription and they’re complying with that prescription, I don’t know why they would have anything to worry about.

BB: Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann, thank you so much for joining us and giving us this venue to put this message out.

For the latest breaking news and stories from across the Tri-State, follow Eyewitness News on Facebook and Twitter.

(This story was originally published on January 25, 2018)