During the 2017 session, the House of Representatives has worked to find new ways to address mental health and addiction issues. Emphasizing the need for commonsense policy aimed at finding solutions for Hoosiers in need is important and the House recently passed legislation that would broaden mental health and addiction treatment options in Indiana.
The opioid epidemic is affecting more people than just the user. According to a recent report, three in 10 new mothers who gave birth at a hospital located in Richmond last year tested positive for illegal drugs. House Bill 1006 includes neonatal abstinence syndrome as a factor for determining if a child is in need of services. This would encourage our court system and the Department of Children Services to enroll more newborns in medication-assisted treatment, which uses a combination of medicine and behavioral therapy to treat addiction.
Our drug crisis is also tearing families apart. During 2016, DCS substantiated 35,561 cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect of children. Advocates, law enforcement and child service professionals concur that the drug epidemic sweeping our state is the primary cause and the facts reflect it: More than 52 percent of children removed from homes in Indiana is a result of a parent having a substance abuse problem. Our plan in HB 1006 would be a significant step in the right direction, helping direct parents, especially new mothers, to addiction treatment services while keeping families together.
Additionally, expanding mental health and addiction treatment options to individuals who have been charged with misdemeanor offenses is an important part of the state’s effort to reduce recidivism and improve Hoosier lives. In Indiana, the Recovery Works program provides mental health and addiction treatment services to felons currently in the criminal justice system or at risk of being incarcerated for a felony. Since it began in 2015, the program has served over 6,400 Hoosiers, helping connect them with addiction treatment providers. In order to continue decreasing the number of offenders who return to prison, our bill looks to provide these services through a pilot program to individuals charged with misdemeanor offenses. Connecting low-level offenders with Recovery Works earlier could prevent more serious offenses from occurring in the future.
Getting these Hoosiers help to turn their lives around as quickly as possible is not only the right thing to do, it will also save taxpayers future costs. A long prison sentence is very expensive compared to months in addiction treatment and community supervision.
As we continue our work during the legislative session, I encourage you to contact me with any questions or input at 317-232-9793 or by email at email@example.com. Learn more about the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at www.in.gov/h74.
State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents House District 74, which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
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