Attacking the opioid crisis in Indiana

Posted on Dec 21 2017 in Features

by Sen. Jim Merritt

As a society, we are combating a disease that could cause us to lose an entire generation of Hoosiers. Since 1999, there has been a 500-percent increase of drug-overdose deaths in Indiana. Every year, more people die from drug overdoses than car accidents. The opioid epidemic impacts every household in our state in one way or another, and affects people from all walks in life. Though we are working diligently to kill this epidemic in Indiana, there is still work that needs to be done.

First, we need to change the culture around addiction. Opioid addiction is an illness, not a character flaw. Once someone begins taking opioids, whether prescribed by a doctor or acquired illegally, the drugs can cause serious changes to the body and the way the brain works. Long-term use can increase the possibility of physical dependency on the drugs, and after a while, people must take these drugs just to avoid the excruciating physical withdrawal symptoms.

We are taking a systematic approach to confronting this issue. During the last legislative session, we set the fundamentals. This session, I am introducing legislation to help in a few different ways. We need to fully utilize the INSPECT program by requiring mandatory registration by all Controlled Substance Registration-holders and by making reports of the use of Naloxone accessible to providers. To prevent prescription drugs from getting in the wrong hands, we need to have mandatory lockable bottles for prescription drugs and a statewide prescription take-back program.

We cannot lose an entire generation to this epidemic. It is my mission and legislative priority to kill this scourge. Those who have lost friends and loved ones from this illness, I ask you to use your grief for good by spreading awareness of this illness. Together, we can kill the opioid epidemic.

SEN. JIM MERRITT (R) is majority caucus chair of the Indiana Senate representing District 31 which includes portions of Hamilton and Marion counties. He is chair of the Utilities Committee and serves on the committees of Commerce and Technology, Homeland Security and Transportation, Joint Rules, Public Policy, Rules and Legislative Procedure and Veterans Affairs and the Military.