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Opioid Epidemic

OxyContin pills.

Gaining any ground on a drug abuse crisis that claims an average of three Hoosiers daily will take a concerted effort among law enforcement, health and government officials.

Most importantly, it will take state leaders who recognize drug abuse for the health epidemic that it is, not just the self-perpetuating criminal aspects frequently associated with drug use.

The Hoosier state, under the strong leadership of Gov. Eric Holcomb and many others, appears to be adopting the right approach.

At an Indianapolis meeting of the Commission to Combat Drug Abuse earlier this month, the state revealed a new plan attempting to resolve our state's drug crisis, including a growing opioid abuse epidemic.

It emphasizes treating addiction like a health issue while acknowledging the importance of law enforcement in targeting suppliers of the illegal drugs to Hoosier users.

The strategy is a potential game changer.

It places an emphasis on access for drug abusers to affordable treatment, encourages alternatives to often-abused opioid prescriptions for pain management and increases access to clean needle exchanges to stem the spread of associated disease.

Initiatives encouraging emergency room personnel to help addicts seek treatment, expanding the use of the life-saving opioid overdose drug, naloxone, and realigning law enforcement resources to target drug trafficking are part of the plan.

Both conventional logic and statistical reality suggest this plan is a winning formula.

Its one flaw is that it's currently short on specifics.

We expect that to change given the tone and tenor of our state's leaders in recognizing the needed response to a deep problem.

Indiana should forge ahead, identifying costs, revenue sources and common ground of cooperation among multiple agencies to bring a specific plan to reality.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.