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home : most recent : statewide implications October 17, 2017


9/25/2017 10:14:00 PM
EDITORIAL: Our most valuable assets are at stake in Hoosier opioid crisis

Times of Northwest Indiana

Civilized societies can't watch and do little during an unfolding epidemic of babies who violently shake after birth, letting out high-pitched, nonstop squeals, all because they're addicted to heroin.

Such societies don't stand idle as hundreds of their people die every year from drug overdoses.

All strong, successful societies throughout human history have one thing in common: a realization that their people are the most important assets.

It's what makes immediate and strategic response by the Hoosier state to an epidemic of opioid dependence and death so critical.

About 100 Hoosiers are dying every month from drug overdoses, a lion's share related to opioids, heroin and prescription painkillers.

Indiana has the 17th-highest rate of overdose deaths in our nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but is one of the hardest places to find treatment.

It's hitting our most important assets, at their most vulnerable stages of life, particularly hard.

A recent article by Times health reporter Giles Bruce detailed the numbers and some of the faces behind the effects of the opioid crisis on Hoosier newborns.

Through the end of August, 15.7 percent of Indiana babies tested were addicted to opioids, compared to 10.7 percent nationwide, the Indiana State Department of Health reported.

It's an unacceptably high statistic in an all-too important category for our state's future.

We all should be encouraged our state leaders are treating this problem like the emergency it is.

In this year's legislative session, Indiana lawmakers passed more than a dozen new laws taking direct aim at the problem.

Those laws included expanding treatment for pregnant women and mothers addicted to opioids, creating housing and treatment for homeless addicts, forming mobile treatment teams to target high-problem areas of the state when they arise and developing plans to increase residential drug treatment in the state.

These plans need to be fully funded and bolstered in upcoming legislative sessions.

We're also encouraged Gov. Eric Holcomb has adopted a whatever-is-necessary approach.

It's the mindset all Hoosiers must have to protect our state's most important assets.

Dealing with a problem of this magnitude won't be cheap. It will require prioritized spending — obviously public revenue.

But failure to invest in this problem now would signal that the Hoosier state doesn't care about the well-being of some of its most important assets — particularly innocent babies who didn't ask to be born into an addiction.

Indiana, its people and its leaders are better than that. We all must invest in fighting this scourge and support responsible measures that deal with it head-on.

Related Stories:
• Governor urges Indiana township trustees to join opioid fight
• Drug epidemic in Vanderburgh County grows deadlier year by year
• EDITORIAL: The staggering costs of Indiana's opioid epidemic
• IU to spend $50 million in addictions crisis initiative, focusing on five areas

Copyright 2017, nwitimes.com, Munster, IN






Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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