Crouch: Opioids Are State's 'Greatest Challenge'

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Crouch spoke at an addiction symposium in Boone County. Crouch spoke at an addiction symposium in Boone County.

Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch says Indiana continues to take steps to battle the opioid epidemic, which she calls "the greatest challenge we have before us." She believes an Indiana Family and Social Services Administration anti-stigma campaign showing addiction is a disease will encourage people to seek help, and says legislators can help by working to increase access to treatment. Crouch says businesses can help by educating themselves about resources available to employees who need help.

The lieutenant governor spoke about the issue today at the Agriculture Industry and Rural Community Opioid Addiction Symposium at the Boone County Fairgrounds. The event also featured Indiana Drug Czar Jim McClelland and USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett.

Crouch says opioids are an even bigger problem in rural areas. "Rural Indiana is vulnerable due to the lower income levels, higher levels of pain prescriptions and the lack of appropriate treatment facilities." She says the state can't "arrest its way out" of the problem calling it a disease that requires treatment and counseling.

Indiana's opioid epidemic reflects a problem that is growing throughout the United States. In October, President Donald Trump declared the issue a national public health emergency, drawing praise from Indiana leaders.

The 2018 Indiana University Kelley School of Business economic forecast pegged the annual impact of the epidemic at more than $1 billion. Indiana University's third Grand Challenges initiative involves a $50 million investment to bring together resources from the university's seven campuses to develop what the school calls one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive state-based responses to the problem.

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