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Legislative Leaders, Indiana Drug Czar Talk Harm Reduction

opioid summit

Panelists discuss harm reduction at the 3rd annual South Central Opioid Summit. (Tyler Lake, WTIU/WFIU News)

Indiana’s top drug treatment and enforcement official says the state is getting better at addressing the opioid crisis.

Jim McClelland joined legislative leaders for a panel discussion today as part of the Third Annual South Central Indiana Opioid Summit.

The conversation focused on solutions to tackling the opioid crisis, which McClelland says the state is getting better at.

“The number of overdose deaths in the state did decline last year 12.9 percent, that’s the provisional data from the CDC. That’s the result of a whole lot of work from a whole lot of people," McClelland says.

McClelland says a bill that gave local communities the ability to establish syringe exchange programs without state approval is one example of success.

State Representative Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) says getting fellow legislators to fund harm reduction programs like syringe exchanges is crucial.

“We really have to do a lot of work explaining to them what it is like to suffer an addiction where you have both the drive to achieve the high and also the fear of going through the withdrawal," Pierce says.

State Senator Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) says he supports those programs, in part because they allow health workers access to those ready to enter treatment.

“So any way you can get access to this person and help steer them into treatment is better," Stoops says.

The summit offered a space for specialists, legislators, community leaders and “people with lived experience,” to discuss evidence-based solutions to the opioid epidemic.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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