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Bartholomew Co. Substance Abuse Alliance Details Goals To Public

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Bartholomew County’s substance abuse alliance detailed a wide range of initiatives Tuesday night that the group aims to pursue in the next couple years.

The Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress, or ASAP, was enacted about six months ago as a community partnership between the county and other organizations. It’s a two-year initiative that aims to confront the county’s opioid epidemic.

The group laid out 10 critical elements it will focus on from prevention and prescribing practices, to making changes in the criminal justice system. Around 200 community members attended the event at The Commons in Columbus.

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop says the goal is to create an effective response as a community. He says he thinks the county will serve a recovery model for the rest of the state.

“That confers upon us a responsibility to deliver,” Lienhoop says. “And I’m confident we shall.”

The group wants to create a hub that would be staffed with trained volunteers to help residents find the right resources they need. Bartholomew County Circuit Court Judge and ASAP team member Kelly Benjamin says that kind of resource could ultimately keep some out of the criminal justice system.

“If there’s jail treatment, if there’s probation, if we have court services and we need help in regarding helping someone find that type of service, there is a place to go where all the services are,” Benjamin says.

Group members say a new treatment center should open in the county by the end of 2018.

The initiatives will be funded through various sources including community partners and tax payer money. ASAP officials say costs of these efforts will depend on the specific project.

The ASAP presentation in Bartholomew County follows Indiana University’s announcement to invest $50 million in addressing the opioid crisis across the state.

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