Opioid addiction, infant mortality and the state’s overall poor health are among priorities for the new Indiana State Health Commissioner. Kristina Box, who spent more than 30 years as an OB-GYN at Indianapolis-based Community Health Network, recently took over for Dr. Jerome Adams, the new U.S. Surgeon General. In an interview on Inside INdiana Business Television, Box said after years of personally going on mission trips abroad, she decided to make Indiana her new mission field. "After 30 years of obstetrics and gynecology, I really hadn’t seen a decrease in infant mortality across our state, so I decided to help with that."
Box says the state’s war on opioid addiction needs to be broad-based and start at an early age.
"The reality is that what we need to do is make sure we are training our younger people, just like with not smoking, that they never try the drugs," said Box, who notes overdose deaths in Indiana increased by approximately 60 percent between 2011 and 2016. "Younger people are at risk for becoming addicted because their brains are just more susceptible to that. Starting at a very young age, elementary school actually, (we need) to talk about not using drugs and the negative effects of using drugs."
Some estimates have put the economic impact of addiction on the Indiana economy at more than $1 billion annually.
In October, Indiana University announced that its third Grand Challenges initiative will target $50 million over five years in what is being called one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive state-based responses to the opioid addiction epidemic.
Watch the entire Kristina Box interview here: