Gov. Holcomb announces opioid treatment expansion

Gov. Holcomb announces expansion of drug treatment program on July 5, 2017. (WISH photo)

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — State help is coming to an answer Gov. Eric Holcomb said keeps him up at night.

On Wednesday, he announced the state expanded a drug treatment program to five counties. The state granted certificates to Valle Vista Health System in Greenwood, The Bowen Center in Fort Wayne, Hamilton Center in Terre Haute and Sycamore Springs in Lafayette. Sycamore Springs will also have a facility in Monroe County, the state said.

Right now, the opioid treatment programs are in 14 locations across Indiana. Last year, they served more than 10,000 patients.

One of those is Amy Rardon, who shared her story during Wednesday’s announcement.

“I would go three days and I would be so incredibly sick that I could not function,” Rardon said. “I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t do anything.”

The Indianapolis woman spent 10 years abusing drugs. An addiction she wants to beat.

“We just want to work,” Rardon said. “We want to be part of the population. We just want to go and get our treatment and live our lives.”

It’s a plea that hit Holcomb hard. He held back tears and struggled to speak after hearing her story.

“Amy,” Holcomb said, “seeing the sun rise and people going to work in the morning, getting their life back, having light shining down. What may be an individual’s darkest hour. This is a day of encouragement for us all.”

Here’s how the program works:

Patients visit a clinic, where they can get education, counseling and medication. A drug that provides a safer option. Not only are more clinics coming, but, Medicaid users will have access in August.

“This is how we combat an opioid epidemic by putting people first, and embracing the integration of science, data and compassion,” Jennifer Walthall, Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration secretary, said.

Overall, it’s an expansion Holcomb ties to the rising sun in the state seal; a new day Rardon hopes is coming.

“With more treatment centers opening, and with Medicaid starting to pay for it, this is going to be huge,” Rardon said. “It’s going to open treatment up to so many people that didn’t have access to it before.”

It’s still going to be several months before these sites are ready to go. They’re going to have to hire and train staff. The goal is to have the five programs running by June 30.

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