SCOTTSBURG — As co-chair of Indiana’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he commends the recent federal proposal to expand funding for addiction treatment programs targeting prescription drug and heroin abuse.
Zoeller met with Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Feb. 11, just days after the proposal was announced, to express his support of this effort and demonstrate Indiana’s need for more resources to combat opioid abuse and its many ramifications. Botticelli was the keynote speaker at Zoeller’s sixth-annual Prescription Drug Abuse Symposium in October 2015.
The federal proposal is calling for $1.1 billion in new funding over the next two years to address the opioid abuse epidemic. The proposal includes funding to expand addiction treatment services and support overdose prevention programs at the state level, including efforts to increase availability of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.
“The opioid addiction crisis destroying lives and tearing families apart demands more action and better results,” Zoeller said. “The crisis will get much worse this year as we crack down on the oversupply that fuels the abuse, and we must direct our efforts to meaningful treatment options. The devastating drug abuse and disease spread occurring in Scott County puts a face on this issue and underscores Indiana’s need for more state and federal support to get people help and save lives. We simply do not have enough treatment facilities to address the alarming need.”
“The problem doesn’t stop when the drug supply dries up in a community. It really only begins,” Zoeller said. “The people hooked on these drugs are left struggling with painful withdrawal symptoms and desperation. If they don’t receive treatment during this critical window, they will likely turn to other, more deadly options, such as opioid-based heroin. The risk for overdose right now is very high.”
Zoeller and members of his Task Force have been reaching out to medical providers, treatment facilities and nonprofits in the days following the drug bust to offer support and share resources, for example the toolkit developed in Allen County to respond to local need after a notorious overprescriber was stripped of his medical license, leaving behind vulnerable, opioid-addicted patients.
Zoeller is also urging continued participation in his office’s grant program that trains and equips first responders with naloxone. The nonprofit Overdose Lifeline has now been granted up to $400,000 to distribute naloxone into at-risk communities and prevent overdose deaths. First responder agencies can contact Overdose Lifeline about receiving naloxone at [email protected]
Additionally, Zoeller’s Task Force is advocating for the passage of Senate Bill 297 this legislative session to ensure Indiana’s opioid addiction treatment programs provide comprehensive, evidence-based care focused on long-term recovery.
This legislation, authored by State Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, would also ensure that Indiana’s opioid treatment programs accept health insurance plans covering low-income Hoosiers to ensure that substance abuse treatment services are available to all of those in need. SB 297 passed the Indiana Senate and now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
Visit www.BitterPill.IN.gov for more information and resources for the public on preventing addiction and getting help.