Davisson: Forging a heroin-free Indiana

Posted by: Nick Seifer  | Friday, August 26, 2016

Indiana is in the midst of a heroin epidemic, as overdoses have tripled since 2010 in our state alone. During the 2016 session, the General Assembly passed legislation to combat this problem, but more can always be done. This summer, as a member of the Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services, I will be working to address heroin use, treatment and recovery in our state.

During a meeting earlier this month, the first topic of our discussion was understanding the full scope of the heroin problem and possible solutions. In Indiana, 98 cents of every dollar invested in solving this issue goes to the criminal justice system, while 2 cents goes toward prevention and treatment. A possible change in law might transfer funding from incarceration, to treatment and recovery.

We heard from multiple doctors and legislators with ideas ranging from multi-dimensional treatment to more screenings and a syringe-exchange program. The proposed multi-dimensional treatment program would mean combining counseling and medication. Experts claimed among those receiving counseling without medication, 70 percent relapse within a month and 90 percent relapse within one year. Incorporating counseling with the aid of medication could help reduce the number of relapses.

Another problem in Indiana is the number of babies born addicted to opioids. Increased prenatal screenings to identify babies who might be born with addiction is a solution proposed by some experts. Emphasis is placed on the importance of protecting our infants with early identification of symptoms in order for both babies and mothers to receive treatment. This added support could help families live healthier, happier lives.

This barely scratches the surface of all the topics covered, and we will continue our discussion at our next meeting on Sept. 20. Our meetings are streamed live online at iga.in.gov. The work being done to solve the epidemic facing our state is a top priority. Please contact me with any questions or ideas at 317-232-9753 or at h73@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Steve Davisson represents parts of Washington, Orange, Lawrence, Jackson, Clark and Harrison counties.

A high-resolution photo of Davisson can be downloaded by clicking here.