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Indiana Advocates: Trump’s Emergency Declaration Not Enough


Indiana public health and advocacy leaders say President Trump’s declaration of a public health emergency to combat the opioid epidemic is a good start, but it’s not enough to make a difference on its own.

Jeff Jones is the executive lead for the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County. He says progress is only possible with additional funding.

“We need resources, we need treatment centers, we need more staff that are actually capable of providing therapy, we need half-way houses, there’s a lot of needs that are going to require funding,” Jones says.

“We need some concrete action and some funding attached to the announcement, and so far that isn’t the case.”

Justin Phillips is the founder and executive director of Overdose Lifeline. She says she’s glad Trump has publicly acknowledged the crisis, but says the declaration alone isn’t enough to make an impact.

“We need some concrete action and some funding attached to the announcement, and so far that isn’t the case,” she says.

Phillips says federal and state leaders need to learn from the people who have experience in addressing drug addiction.

“There’s a lot of community grassroots organizations such as Overdose Lifeline and others in the state that are really doing effective, impactful work and I would like to see them recognized and receive more of a voice in the solution,” she says. “We’re there, boots on the ground, seeing it every day. We know what families and communities need.”

WATCH: State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) says the announcement will be catalytic for Indiana and addresses the state’s response to the opioid crisis:

Chris Abert is the Program Director for the Indiana Recovery Alliance, which runs the syringe exchange program in Monroe County.

He says he’s disappointed but not surprised by what he sees as a lack of concrete action in the emergency announcement.

“I don’t think anybody is hoping that the federal government or the state government is going to come in and save anybody anytime soon, especially a hated, criminalized, and stigmatized population,” he says.

The Indiana Recovery Alliance also managed the syringe exchange program in Lawrence County, until officials voted this month not to renew the program after a year of operation.

Several Indiana leaders, including Governor Eric Holcomb, applauded Trump’s declaration.

NPR reports the declaration gives the administration access to the Public Health Emergency Fund, but that fund is nearly empty.

The Trump administration says it will work with Congress in the budgeting process to find new money to fund addiction treatment programs.

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