Phase One projects of the Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenges initiative

Indiana University School of Nursing Dean and Distinguished Professor Robin Newhouse has announced the Phase One projects of the Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenges initiative.

As part of IU's $50 million commitment to prevent, reduce and treat addictions in Indiana, initial pilot grants feature collaborative teams of faculty members, researchers, community organizations and cross-sector partners. Together, the projects will address all five focus areas of the statewide initiative: ground-level data collection and analysis; training and education; policy analysis and development; addictions science; and community and workforce development.

An unprecedented epidemic

Heroin and opioid prescriptions

  • Every two and a half hours, someone in Indiana is sent to the hospital for an opioid overdose.
  • In Indiana, there are enough bottles of painkillers in circulation for nearly every Hoosier to have their own.
  • The number of infants born addicted to opioids is increasing at an alarming rate, costing Indiana more than $64 million in 2014 alone.
  • Drug overdose deaths in Indiana cost the state more than $1.4 billion in medical costs and lifetime earnings losses in 2014.
  • Indiana is one of four states where the fatal drug overdose rate has quadrupled since 1999. Because of this rise, Hoosiers are now more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car accident.
  • If this dire trend continues, the opioid death toll in Indiana could top 15,000 in the next decade — more than the entire population of Brown County.

A grassroots approach

Our Grand Challenge initiative begins with a focus on understanding and responding to the needs of our communities. Alongside Governor Holcomb, IU Health and Eskenazi Health, we will unleash the full force of our statewide community partners at the grassroots level. Together we will implement actionable solutions that curb the crippling effects of addiction in Indiana.

A challenge that is this complex requires a comprehensive response. Together with our partners and community, we are responding with an integrated, multidisciplinary approach that can help us understand and address the factors that contribute to addiction.

Robin Newhouse, Dean of Indiana University’s School of Nursing and Executive Chair, Responding to the Addictions Crisis Steering Committee

Description of the video:

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.