Public safety is a growing concern for many Hoosiers, and unfortunately, drug overdose continues to be a destructive reality impacting our state. In fact, a 2013 study from Trust for America’s Health showed that Indiana is one of only four states where the number of drug overdose deaths has quadrupled since 1999.
This session is not the first time in recent history that the Legislature has sought to address this serious problem. During the 2014 legislative session, I co-sponsored legislation which allows officials, such as first responders, police officers and firefighters to administer an overdose prevention drug, such as Naloxone or Narcan.
As a former professional firefighter, I have always welcomed new ideas to ensure that our public safety officers have the tools necessary to save lives and be effective in their roles. However, I also understand that when someone overdoses, it is often a family member or loved one who discovers the potentially deadly situation.
That is why I was proud to support a new law this session which expands access to these overdose prevention drugs. Now, in addition to emergency responders being able to legally obtain overdose prevention drugs, health care professionals are able to prescribe these potentially lifesaving treatments to family members or friends, if they are in a position to assist someone at risk.
Not only is this law designed to increase access, but it is also designed to promote education. For example, the prescriber will be required to instruct the individual receiving the prescription to summon emergency services either immediately before or after administering the drug.
The law also requires prescribers to provide drug addiction treatment information and referrals to state or local drug treatment programs. This offers both a short-term solution, as well as a way to promote long-term treatment. In the end, it is not our intent to repeatedly provide overdose intervention drugs to the same Hoosiers. Rather, our end goal is to encourage Hoosiers struggling with addiction or drug abuse problems to get the help that they need to live a clean and healthy lifestyle.
This problem impacts many communities in all areas of the state. Our state’s dedicated first-responders are some of the finest in the nation, and this simply adds an extra layer of protection, because the sooner Narcan can be administered, the more likely it is to save a life.