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US drug czar: Indiana makes progress in fight against drug addiction

By Jim Carroll, IndyStar on 12/1/2019

We have made record investments to prevent drug use before it starts, including over $2.75 million in funding for 22 Indiana communities.

In the Crossroads of America and beyond, our nation is facing a crisis of drug addiction.  Last year, nearly 70,000 Americans, about 200 people each day, died of a drug overdose. From cities like Indianapolis, Richmond, and Fort Wayne, to suburbs and the many small towns that define the Hoosier State, no corner of our country has escaped the devastation of this epidemic.

With its impact on families, economic vitality, and quality of life, fighting drug addiction through prevention, treatment, and law enforcement efforts is a top priority for President Trump. Working with bold and innovative leaders like Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, the administration has engaged in an all-hands-on-deck approach to save lives.

We have made record investments to prevent drug use before it starts, including over $2.75 million in funding for 22 Indiana communities through our Drug-Free Communities Support Program during the past two years. We recently expanded this effective program to help two more Indiana organizations in Johnson and Scott counties build strong local coalitions to educate the next generation in their community about the dangers of substance use.

In addition to prevention, we are treating addiction like the chronic disease that it is and opening up more opportunities for treatment than ever before.  As Holcomb implements an aggressive plan to make treatment available within an hour drive for every Hoosier, the Trump Administration stands as a strong partner in pursuit of this lifesaving goal. In September, the Department of Health and Human Services announced over $18 million in funding to support greater access to treatment in Indiana through its State Opioid Response program.  Further, the Trump Administration has launched a new treatment locator, which can be found online at findtreatment.gov, to help people find the treatment they and their loved ones need.

Finally, we are stopping the flow of illegal drugs into our country. In this fiscal year alone, we have seized nearly 3,000 pounds of fentanyl and saved thousands of lives as a result. Earlier this fall, I announced the addition of Allen County to the state’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which means Indiana can access even more resources to go after those profiting from the drug trade.

These efforts are beginning to show progress. According to preliminary data, drug overdose deaths in 2018 declined for the first time in over 30 years, and here in Indiana, the drop in deaths is even greater than the national decline. This summer, I made a trip to the Hoosier State to see this success firsthand and met heroes like Katharine, a program coordinator at Pathway to Recovery, who is using her lived experience with methamphetamine to support others in their own journey to freedom. I saw innovation in action with a visit to Boone County, where Sheriff Mike Nielsen has launched a jail-based drug and alcohol treatment program that is dramatically reducing recidivism rates and changing the stigma surrounding addiction in his community. Such progress is possible only through local leadership and collaboration.  

The progress we are making in Indiana and across the rest of the country does not mean our work is done; rather, it tells us we must continue to be relentless in our efforts to save more of our family members, friends, and neighbors.  The Trump Administration, working hand-in-hand with state and local leaders like Gov, Holcomb, Sheriff Nielsen, and Katharine, will never let up in this fight.