Indiana releases plan to fight drug epidemic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The number of people in Indiana to die from drugs has risen each year since 2008. To stop this, the state unveiled a new strategy Thursday.

The announcement took place during in an hour-and-a-half meeting involving a number of top state leaders. They did more than just look at numbers, they also heard from those recovering.

Recovery addicts, Sean and Conner Ryan, address Indiana leaders about the drug crisis. Their mom is State Rep. Cindy Ziemke. The family uses their experience to help others beat the addiction and fight for help. (WISH Photo)

“If it wasn’t for Narcan, I was about 10 minutes away from death when I was saved,” Sean Ryan said. “I found myself at 21 years old a full blown heroin addict,” Sam Siegle said.

Eight years ago, drugs killed 809 people in Indiana. Last year, drugs killed 1,357 people.

“We’d like to think that Indiana is the best state in the nation to do business in, but we’d like to see it be the worst state in the nation to do that kind of business in,” Drug Treatment Executive Director Jim McClelland said.

To get there, a six-page framework was created. The plan starts with preventing people from using drugs by educating medical professionals and monitoring prescriptions.

The state also wants to get more school education. “The earlier the child begins using an addictive substance, the greater the risk of addiction, a serious addiction problem in adulthood,” McClelland said.

The strategy also increases access to a drug that revives overdose victims. One way is reducing the cost of the reviving drug, Narcan.

Right now, Indiana State Police said a dose cost more than $80. This summer, the state will offer it for half the cost.

State troopers also told leaders Thursday that some addicts are receiving multiple doses of it, and sometimes it takes four shots for the drug to work.

Despite this, leaders said it’s important to increase access. “The alternative would be just say we’re not going to do anything to try and save a life, and just let them die,” McClelland said. “That’s not acceptable.”

The plan calls for a needle exchange increase and peer programs. The state also plans to add up to 75 beds, create mobile teams and boost responder training.

But it’s a plan State Democrats say is lacking details. “It needs to be comprehensive,” Indiana Democratic Party Chair John Zody said. “We need specifics from the commission. We’ll see what the commission ends up recommending and go from there.”

“We’re in specifics right now, but we wanted something that can serve as a framework that serves as a guide,” McClelland said.

It’s a strategy brothers Sean and Conner Ryan like to see. 24-Hour news 8 highlighted their addiction story last year.

Their mother is a state representative. She sat at the table Thursday as her sons explained how this new plan must work.

“I woke up today and saw another one of my friends had passed away from this addiction,” Sean Ryan  said. “19-year-old girl. Somebody’s daughter. It happens every day.”

The governor’s team will unveil more specifics this summer. The group will meet again in late August. To view the state’s plan, click here.

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