Lake County, Indiana Coroner Merrilee Frey issued a public plea to the community Friday following at least 18 overdose deaths in February.
Of the 18 deaths reported between Feb. 1 and 28 in Lake County, 11 were opioid-related, Frey said. The coroner's office is awaiting toxicology results in the remaining cases.
In a press release, Frey called the number of overdose deaths "absolutely heart-wrenching" and added drug overdose is a preventable death.
She advises those who choose to use drugs to never use alone, always carry Narcan and go slow, even if you have a habit. Frey also said to wait 30 minutes between using with another person.
From 2016 to 2017, Indiana had the third highest rate increase of opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States, according to data from the state.
"Sadly, our overdose death rate in Lake County is not minimizing," Frey said. "We need to continue prevention efforts with our youth and educate those with an opioid addiction on safe use."