Like the rest of the nation, Indiana is facing a heroin and opioid abuse crisis, which is claiming too many lives and damaging our local communities.
Right now, drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental deaths in Indiana. The number of heroin-related deaths have skyrocketed from 54 in 2010 to 239 in 2015.
While these statistics are grave, we also need to understand that drug users are not the only ones affected by these substances. It’s also affecting the everyday lives of nonusers.
Simple tasks like going to the pharmacy are making Hoosiers uneasy due to the high rate at which they are being robbed.
Indiana leads the United States in pharmacy robberies, recording 175 in 2015. Ranked second that year was California, whose population is six times larger than ours.
The epidemic is also causing related health problems. Some heroin and opioid users are sharing needles and spreading HIV. In Scott County alone, needle sharing has resulted in 214 cases of HIV.
These statistics are unacceptable and must be addressed.
This legislative session, legislators are working hard to attack the drug epidemic with a three-pronged legislative strategy that focuses on prevention, treatment and recovery. Some of the bills being considered include:
·Senate Bill 226, which would prohibit doctors from prescribing more than a seven-day supply of opioids to most patients if it’s their first opioid prescription with the doctor;
·Senate Bill 151 iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/senate/151 and Senate Bill 408, which would work together to prevent opioid users from “doctor shopping” for multiple opioid prescriptions by improving the state’s INSPECT prescription-tracking program;
·Senate Bill 243 and Senate Bill 446, which would expand access to treatment for pregnant women struggling with opioid addiction by establishing a grant to fund hospital-based treatment programs and creating a pilot program to fund residential addiction treatment; and
·Senate Bill 59, which would allow out-of-state psychologists, mental-health counselors, addiction counselors and social workers to receive a temporary Indiana license to practice in the state if they have practiced for at least five years in another state without any disciplinary issues.
Right now, these bills are moving through the Indiana General Assembly. It is my hope that, if passed, they will help put a stop to the drug epidemic in our state.
As always, I welcome your thoughts on these bills or any other issues being considered by the Indiana General Assembly this year. My office can be reached by phone at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov.
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