Exhaustive research and reporting have detailed the scope of substance abuse in Indiana. The evidence is clear: addiction in Indiana is an urgent problem.

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Nick were 18 months apart. They were a year behind each other in school and I would say that they were probably best friends. They played hockey together ever since they were about 3 years old. They played their last four years of hockey together. Nick and Jack had gone to a party together. The next morning, I walked into Jack’s room and was talking to him and didn’t really get a response from him. So I shook him to wake him up. And that’s when he didn’t wake up. I checked his pulse and checked his respirations, and of course, there was none. And I picked him up, initiated CPR, and called for 911. Nick was in the basement with some of his friends. They had gone to awaken Nick and let him know and that’s when he was lifeless as well. They were underage drinking and had experimented with some opioids as well. They made a choice to take one of the pills and didn’t wake up the next morning. I still can’t believe that they would make choices like they did that night. This can happen to anybody. No families are untouchable.

The challenge posed by addiction in Indiana today is enormous and unprecedented. Opioid abuse is at an all-time high. Abuse of other substances is rising at an alarming rate. Alcoholism continues to shatter families. And the size of the problem is rivaled only by its complexity.

Now’s the time to act. For our state. For our communities. And for the people we love. That’s why Indiana University’s Grand Challenges Program, is partnering with Governor Eric Holcomb and his administration to tackle Indiana’s addiction problem head-on. Overcoming this crisis will take a complex, far-reaching plan.

Attacking the drug epidemic is a key focus of my administration.

It starts with equipping and training those on the front lines of this crisis.

We’re focusing on prevention, early intervention, better training, and certification programs so that more health professionals can help fight this epidemic.

We must understand and respond more effectively to the root causes of this problem. We’re taking a strategic approach and improving the use of data to reduce the prevalence of substance use disorder and help those who have an opioid addiction recover and become or return to becoming productive, contributing members of their communities. To do this, we are pulling together the best resources this state has to offer.

We are attacking this crisis on all fronts. We are taking action to reduce the availability of opioids and provide Hoosiers with more treatment and prevention programs.

We need to understand not only the science behind addiction, but also the policy and economic issues that affect it. If we’re going to break the cycle of addiction, we must address economic opportunity, jobs, and community development.

It will take teamwork, including local communities across our state. Working together, we are expanding partnerships and introducing new resources that will help end this crisis.

These areas of focus will reach families across our state and help those who need it most. Critical change. Life-saving change. So that Hoosiers everywhere know that help—and hope—is on the way.

Where there is hope, there is a chance to save lives.

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Crippled by addiction

Hundreds of hospital visits a month. Ten fatal overdoses every week. Heroin and prescription opioids are wreaking havoc on Hoosier communities — and it’s only getting worse. We can mitigate this epidemic by curbing the flow of opioids and helping addicts and their families get the treatment and support they desperately need.

A critical response to an escalating crisis

Facing mounting evidence of a growing addictions crisis, the Governor’s office published a strategic plan, calling upon leaders from around our state to take up the mantle—starting at the community level. In response, Indiana University is launching a statewide effort as part of its Grand Challenges program. To be implemented across IU’s seven campuses and in partnership with Governor Eric J. Holcomb, state officials, IU Health and Eskenazi Health, this initiative will be one of the largest and most comprehensive state-based responses to the opioid addiction crisis, and the largest led by a university. The initiative will engage the full strength of IU’s world-class faculty and its industry, non-profit and government partners to address addictions in Indiana.

Hoosier communities are in jeopardy. The addiction epidemic is a very real threat to the wellbeing of our families, businesses, and our state’s social services and health care systems. Only together can we create and implement community-centric policies that will help alleviate this epidemic and help recovering addicts again become productive citizens of our state.

Jim McClelland, Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement, State of Indiana

About Grand Challenges

Responding to the Addictions Crisis is the newest initiative of Indiana University’s Grand Challenges program aimed at solving some of the most difficult challenges facing Indiana.

We’re tackling large-scale, complex problems that require collaboration across disciplines, industries, and communities. Our success will be measured by the tangible impact our programs have on the lives of Hoosiers. This bold initiative is the culmination of committed partnerships and dedicated research teams working together to solve some of the largest and most pressing problems Hoosiers face today.

Supporting Grand Challenges

If you would like to contribute to the Grand Challenges Program, please consider a donation to the Grand Challenges Fund which supports initiatives, including but not limited to, Responding to the Addictions Crisis, Prepared for Environmental Change, and Precision Health.

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