INDIANAPOLIS — A comprehensive strategy to address the state's drug abuse crisis was adopted Thursday, focusing on the coordination of resources and using evidence-proven treatment programs.
However, the six-page document lists no costs of implementing the strategy introduced by Jim McClelland, who was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to serve as the state's executive director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement.
Asked to estimate a cost to implement the strategy, McClelland said, "We're going to move as fast as we can to do as much as we can with the resources that we have and we're going to do this the best we can to try to attract more resources."
He said that guidelines were needed first in tackling the complex issue.
Emphasis is also given to expanding the approach to treatment by increasing the use of drug courts, diversion programs and by promoting "wrap-around" services ranging from housing for recovering addicts to seeking to "eliminate punitive policies that terminate services for people who relapse."
The commitment to treatment was echoed by two Batesville brothers who went through addiction programs in California.
"I feel treatment is a much better option, if we have the resources for treatment, versus locking up everybody who has a drug problem," Connor Ryan, 24, said.
Although programs were available for him in Indiana, he chose to go to California to go through the same program as his older brother, Sean.
"I feel it's very difficult to get sober at someplace where you've used," Connor Ryan said.
Sean Ryan said he had to go out of state to address his heroin addiction.
He said, "It means so much to me to be here and see that we are doing so much for this and finally addressing this because when I first got sober, I went to doctors, I went to the emergency room and there were no options. No one knew where I should go."
The brothers are the sons of State Rep. Cindy Ziemke, R-Batesville, who was at the commission meeting.
Under the strategic plan, when treatment is not immediately available, Hoosiers could be connected with a counselor who stays in touch with the individual until treatment is ready. Emergency departments would have counselors to establish relationships with patients who overdose.
The recent General Assembly earmarked $5 million to combat substance abuse and enforcement.
In April, the state received a $10.9 million federal 21st Century CURES grant intended to combat substance abuse. Of that, $7.6 million could provide funding for between 60 to 75 inpatient beds for a year, said Kevin Moore, director of of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction. He said that amount "chips away at the iceberg."
The policy now needs to be supported by the General Assembly, said legislators attending the commission meeting.
The plan seeks to reduce the supply of illegal drugs by targeting supply chains including interdiction efforts, reducing impaired driving and reducing pharmacy robberies.
The strategy strives to reduce the incidence of substance use disorders. To that end, the state is to encourage the use of alternative pain management treatments to avoid addictions to opioids. Hospitals will be urged to provide post-operative follow-up.
In one approach, a Medicaid waiver would have to be obtained to pay for residential treatment and recovery support mechanisms.
Paramedics would be trained to provide follow-up services for people with addictions who have been released for addiction treatment and live in under-served areas. A "hub-and-spokes" network could be created to provide an array of services in multi-county regions.