Mahan: Combating Indiana’s illegal drug epidemic

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, January 20, 2017 8:53 am

Last year, House Republicans championed legislation that worked to lower the number of Indiana’s drug-related incidents. I supported a new law to drastically reduce the number of methamphetamine labs in Indiana. Thanks to this legislation and the ongoing dedication of Indiana law enforcement, the state saw a 35 percent decrease in statewide meth lab seizures in 2016, according to Indiana State Police statistics.

While this law has helped stem one element of the state’s larger drug crisis, there is still a great deal of work to be done. Indiana continues to face a high level of illegal drug abuse, particularly opioids and heroin. More than 9 percent of Hoosier adults have reported using illicit drugs in the past month, and over 4 percent have reported using painkillers for nonmedical use. Between January and November of 2016, the Indiana State Police confiscated nearly 3,500 grams of heroin and more than $230,000 in heroin-related money. As you can tell, Indiana’s fight against illegal drugs is far from over.

This session, I remain committed to improving public safety in Indiana. As a former sheriff, I know the devastating effects drug use has on our communities. Drug use has consequences that affect more than just the user. Some of the most heartbreaking statistics involve innocent children. The Indiana Department of Child Services reports that more than 50 percent of the children removed from homes is due to parental substance abuse. These human costs are real.

Through commonsense policies, we plan to broaden treatment options for substance abuse and addiction, while maintaining our commitment to criminal justice reform. I am dedicated to enhancing equity, keeping our communities safe, allocating resources efficiently and punishing repeat offenders.

One of the most vital components to fighting any addiction is addressing mental health issues. This year’s House Bill 1006 would make changes to substance abuse treatment practices. Indiana’s Recovery Works program is designed to provide support services to Hoosiers who have been in the criminal justice system and do not have insurance coverage. Right now, the program only covers felony offenders entering or leaving incarceration, but under HB 1006, eligibility could expand to include individuals who have been charged with misdemeanors. If enacted, we can begin to address addiction across the spectrum of criminal offenders.

This proposal also looks to require Recovery Residences to provide residential care and meet established standards for chronic addicts. To continue lowering our drug incidents, we must treat addiction as a disease, rather than repeating the cycle of continuously arresting and incarcerating drug addicts.

House Bill 1006 also includes additional protections for drug-exposed newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome. They would be designated as a child in need of services, or CHINS. It would also provide for addiction counseling, inpatient detoxification and medication-assisted treatment when needed. The bill would also allow for court-ordered addiction treatment for mothers who used alcohol or drugs during pregnancy.

While there is a long road ahead of us, it is our goal to protect Hoosiers and their children by reducing the prevalence of drug use throughout the state and curb the scourge of addiction.

As we continue to debate legislation at the Statehouse, keep in mind that there’s still time to mail in your completed legislative survey or fill it out online at www.in.gov/h31. Please continue to share your thoughts with me by contacting my office at 317-234-9499 or h31@iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City) represents

portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties. 

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