Indiana is getting $10.9 million in federal funding to fight the opioid crisis. Most of that money will go toward treatment.

Background

The use of heroin and opioid painkillers has exploded across the United States in recent years. An estimated 91 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared opioid use an epidemic in this country.

Indiana has the 17th-highest rate of drug overdoses in the nation. In Northwest Indiana, both Lake and Porter counties had record number of heroin overdoses last year.

However, treatment often is hard for opioid addicts to access, particularly if they are poor or lack private insurance. Inpatient rehab and detox are especially difficult to find. Wait lists are common.

Early last year, then-President Barack Obama requested $1 billion in new funding to expand treatment. Congress overwhelmingly approved the spending in December. The money will be awarded to states over the next two fiscal years.

What's next

The Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction plans to spend the $10.9 million on:

  • Expanding residential treatment and detox programs, particularly those that serve pregnant women and the parts of the state most devastated by the opioid epidemic. This will take up the bulk of the funding.
  • Improving access to medication-assisted treatment, by helping patients pay for it and training more physicians to offer it. Research has found medication-assisted treatment, where patients take craving-reducing drugs like buprenorphine or naltrexone, to be the most effective way to treat opioid addiction.
  • Providing treatment to juvenile offenders. The state already treats adult offenders through its Recovery Works program.
  • Training recovery peer support specialists for placement in emergency rooms in the most high-risk counties.
  • Purchasing and distributing the overdose-reversal drug naloxone to local health departments.
  • Launching a public awareness campaign to reduce the stigma surrounding drug treatment.

 

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