Press Release: Indiana Drug Czar and Sen. Jim Merritt Join Business and Community Leaders to Announce Coalition to Combat Indiana’s Opioid Crisis
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Executive Director of Drug Enforcement Treatment and Prevention Jim McClelland and Indiana State Senator Jim Merritt, along with a diverse group of business and community leaders, today announced the formation of the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) Indiana, a new coalition to boost the fight against Indiana’s opioid epidemic.
“The opioid crisis is too large and too complex for any one person or group to solve,” said Sen. Jim Merritt. “We need policymakers, community groups, law enforcement, healthcare advocates, the business community and so many others to identify and support what’s working to treat and prevent opioid addiction. RALI Indiana brings those forces together.”
RALI Indiana will provide new resources and education to organizations and communities across the state. Through grants and other resources, RALI Indiana will highlight and support programs saving lives. RALI Indiana is proud to award its first grant of $25,000 to the Wellness Council of Indiana’s Workforce Recovery Initiative, an affiliate of the Indiana Chamber which provides Indiana employers tools to prevent and support treatment for substance use disorders among employees.
“Drug addiction has affected nearly everyone in our state including an overwhelming majority of businesses. But few people understand the signs of addiction and where to go to get help,” said Wellness Council of Indiana Executive Director Jennifer Pferrer. “RALI Indiana’s contributions will help us de-stigmatize addiction and get more Hoosiers healthy and back into the workforce.”
Indiana is one of four states where the fatal drug overdose rate has quadrupled since 1999. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, more than 1,500 Hoosiers died from a drug overdose in 2016 – 785 of those deaths were related to opioids. Governor Eric Holcomb and his administration along with state lawmakers are tackling the issue on many fronts including expanding addiction treatment, recruiting more medical providers trained in addiction diseases and enhancing data-sharing to better track the crisis.
“Under Governor Holcomb’s leadership, we are expanding access to treatment statewide. In addition, we are working to strengthen opioid abuse prevention programs,” said Jim McClelland. “RALI Indiana will play an important role in helping to provide resources to organizations that are on the front lines in communities across Indiana.”
RALI Indiana’s website, www.rali-in.org, will serve as a hub of information and resources for those affected by addiction and substance use disorders in hopes of preventing future overdose deaths.
Along with substantial grants to organizations in both urban and rural communities, RALI Indiana will be distributing thousands of safe drug disposal kits to Hoosiers free of charge. The kits are one of several FDA approved methods to dispose of unwanted prescription medicines, including using common household items like coffee grounds or kitty litter. Research shows that more 60 percent of Americans prescribed opioid painkillers reported keeping leftover medication in their home medicine cabinet long after ending use. As part of the effort, RALI Indiana partners will educate Hoosiers about the importance of proper drug disposal.
For more information about RALI Indiana and the fight against Indiana’s opioid epidemic, visit www.rali-in.org.
ABOUT RALI Indiana:
RALI Indiana is an alliance of local, state and national organizations committed to finding solutions to end the opioid crisis in Indiana. Partners of the coalition include:
• Accelerate Indiana Municipalities
• Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
• Indiana Chamber
• Indiana Manufacturers Association
• Indiana Sheriffs’ Association
• Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
• Wellness Council of Indiana