Mahan: Making progress in the fight against opioid abuse

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, March 31, 2017 9:56 am

Recently, the Indiana State Police reported a drop in methamphetamine lab busts throughout the state. In 2016, the statewide number dropped by 35 percent. Our community saw a significant reduction in the number of meth lab seizures from 2015 to 2016. Meth lab incidents in Blackford County were cut by more than half, reducing the number from 234 to 145, and Grant County went down from 15 to 10.

This reduction comes as a result of the actions being taken by Indiana State Police, local police departments and watchful pharmacy staff across Indiana. Their efforts have been helped by a new law passed last session making it more difficult for meth cooks to purchase large amounts of pseudoephedrine, a common decongestant medicine and key ingredient in the manufacturing of meth. At the same time, the law empowers pharmacists to ensure law-abiding consumers still have access to medication containing pseudoephedrine.

Although we are seeing a lot of significant progress in curbing meth production, there are still improvements that can be made in addressing the opioid crisis our state is fighting. I understand the devastating effects that drugs have on individuals, families and communities alike. That’s why I am continuing to support legislation this session focused on combating opioid use in Indiana and providing assistance to Hoosiers facing addiction.

House Bill 1006, which was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives, was drafted after a summer study committee addressed the topic of opioid addiction and the overdose crisis in Indiana. Under this proposed legislation, the state would begin a pilot program expanding eligibility for the Recovery Works program, a statewide addiction treatment program for felony offenders. Mental health and substance abuse services would be more accessible to vulnerable populations. For example, the pilot program would expand enrollment to misdemeanants with the goal of preventing continued drug abuse and future incarceration.

I understand that addiction needs to be treated as a disease, and the repeated cycle of simply arresting and incarcerating addicts is not only ineffective, but it’s devastating for families and communities, as well as expensive for taxpayers. We cannot arrest our way out of this problem. Rather, we must resolve it by broadening addiction treatment options and resources to these individuals. With their addictions under control, these Hoosiers can return to being productive members of society. This bill is now being considered by the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

As we begin our final weeks of session, remember you can always contact me with any questions or concerns at 317-234-9499 or h31@iga.in.gov. I encourage community members to sign up for my e-newsletter for regular updates at www.in.gov/h31.

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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.