INDIANAPOLIS — Indian Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the state is giving $1.3 million in additional funding to distribute the opioid reversal agent naloxone across the state.
This is after Indiana saw a 50% increase in overdoses last year and a 32% increase in overdose deaths.
255 ribbons have been placed in Overdose Lifeline’s front yard. 255 is the average number of lives lost in a single day last year to overdose. It’s the highest number of deaths in this country that we’ve ever seen.
“It’s hard,” Justin Phillips, CEO of Overdose Lifeline, said. “It’s hard to be in the business of trying to save lives and know that we lost the most lives that we’ve ever lost last year.”
The pandemic took a toll on many people. For those who struggle with substance use disorder and mental health, it only exacerbated those issues.
“My son was a really funny, awkward, gentle giant,” Jane Justus said.
Justus knows that struggle. Her son Guy had a serious mental illness, she says, and at 15 years old, his substance use disorder began.
“He had a staff infection after we got off a cruise ship,” Justus said. “So that started with an IV injection, morphine, and then a prescription. So I complacently gave that to him and then shortly thereafter he had a wisdom tooth extraction and I complacently gave him that until he didn’t need it. So it wasn’t his choice to become addicted to opioids.”
As his mental health worsened, so did his substance use disorder she says. He passed away two years ago.
“It breaks my heart,” she said. “And in some ways too, I think maybe with the pandemic, understanding that mental health piece of it. We are seeing how much the mental health is impacted by this, maybe we’ll see that we need to treat the mental health part of addiction.”
After a year of such loss, the state is now dedicating $1.3 million in additional funding to provide more of the overdose reversal drug naloxone. Overdose Lifeline is distributing 35,000 doses of naloxone and placing 215 additional what’s called NaloxBoxes around the state.
“In almost every one of the 92 counties doing the naloxone distribution in the last year, we’ve distributed over 40,000 individual overdose kits,” Phillips said.
Overdose Lifeline has already placed nearly 100 NaloxBoxes across the state, as a way for someone to receive an overdose reversal kit any time of day, anonymously, without having to interact with someone. In fact, just the past month, they placed three NaloxBoxes in Indianapolis city parks, Phillips said, “so far, we’ve had about 50 overdose reversal kids taken out of those three boxes.”
Phillips and families affected by opioid addiction hope we as a society can come together and work together to combat this crisis.
“If you don’t get help for yourself and also learn about the addiction, your loved one with the addiction doesn’t stand a chance,” Justus said.
In recognition of “International Overdose Awareness Day,” Overdose Lifeline gathered friends, families, and interested community members to honor the lives lost to overdose. There was food, fellowship, and a candlelight vigil at the Indiana State Museum. Families displayed a photo of their loved ones and shared a few words.
People also learned how to recognize and respond to an overdose and receive a free overdose reversal kit.
If you or someone you know is dealing with a substance use-related emergency, call 911.
For more information on a recovery organization near you, you can visit the Indiana Recovery Network website.
You can call 211 for help 24/7 in Indiana.
You can call the Indiana Addiction Hotline at 1-800-622-HELP (4357).
To find where you can get Naloxone near you, click here.
To view more resources from NextLevel Recovery Indiana, click here to visit its website.
Click here to learn more about substance use disorders.
Substance use disorder-related data from the state.