INDIANAPOLIS — The city of Indianapolis has opted-in to a national lawsuit against 20 drug companies over their role in the opioid crisis.
Four of the companies have already settled, and those settlements could bring in up to $40.2 million to the city, with payments starting as early as next month, according to a city spokesperson.
Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, overdoses and addiction numbers are sky-high. In the first two months of 2021, the Marion County Coroner investigated more than 150 overdoses. Indianapolis EMS used 30% more naloxone in February 2022 than 2021.
Naloxone is a drug used to treat overdoses.
Lauren Fraser is in long-term recovery and now works in the community to help others.
“People think that addicts and stuff are people living in the streets, but it's everywhere. It's in your most affluent neighborhoods all the way down to the streets. It’s everywhere at this point,” she said.
Wendy Noe is the executive director at Dove Recovery House for Women.
“At Dove House, we've seen as many as 85 people waiting for a bed, and most of those people will never make it into a bed,” she said.
But the new settlement money could help alleviate the pressure. The money is required to be used to help combat the effects of the opioid crisis.
The idea of additional services gives Fraser hope.
“I know I wouldn't be here if I didn't have resources that this money can provide,” she said.
Kyle Morris is also in long-term recovery, and agrees that resources are the most important component to recovery.
“How do we get those resources out there to try and affect the future, rather than try to clean up the past?”
And this might not be the end. There are still 16 companies in litigation, and the city can still choose to pursue its own lawsuit against the companies, as well.
“It is amazing to see that our government has held accountable these organizations that were making a lot of money from our cities from out communities for their own personal pockets. And they needed to be held accountable and they are and I hope that continues,” Noe said.
“It's good for folks to see that these companies that were such a big part of the problem for so many years, are being forced to be part of the solution, as well,” Brandon George, director of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition, said.
Advocates also worry about how the money will be spent.
“Not everybody is an expert on addiction, so making sure our mayors, our county councils have people around them that can really help put good plans in place for these dollars," George said.
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 learn more about NaloxBoxes, 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.