Opioid abuse is a growing issue in our state, costing Indiana billions of dollars and destroying Hoosier lives. For example, 488 opioid pain reliever-related deaths occurred in Indiana in 2016 alone, which is a nearly 2,000-percent increase since 2000.
At the national level, deaths caused by drug overdoses in 2016 was greater than the total number of American deaths in the Vietnam War.
Because of the size of this crisis, opioid abuse must be attacked on multiple fronts. The Indiana General Assembly continues to use a three-pronged approach of prevention, treatment and enforcement.
To help keep prescription drugs out of the hands of current or potential opioid abusers, Senate Bill 221 would require doctors to check INSPECT, Indiana’s prescription monitoring database, prior to issuing opioid prescriptions. Currently, a doctor’s use of the INSPECT program is merely optional.
To expand opioid abusers’ access to treatment, House Bill 1007 would allow the Division of Mental Health and Addiction to approve nine additional opioid treatment programs for Indiana, which would be operated by hospitals. By adding more programs, all Hoosiers would be within a one-hour drive of a treatment program.
Additionally, to ensure Indiana has enough mental health and addiction counselors available to those struggling with addiction, Senate Bill 224 would make it easier for counselors to begin work in Indiana by lowering the number of clinical hours needed to receive a license. Reducing these overly burdensome requirements will help Indiana attract more counselors to Indiana, which is a critical component of addressing drug addiction in our state.
Drug dealers who fuel the drug addiction crisis need to be held accountable for their deadly actions. House Bill 1359 would increase criminal penalties for drug dealers if a sale leads to a fatal overdose.
The opioid epidemic is a nationwide crisis. However, I am hopeful the bills authored this session will help curb the drug abuse facing our state.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this or other topics, contact my office by phone at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov.
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