Published November 13, 2019

Guest blog: Substance use disorder knows no boundaries

By Jim McClelland, State of Indiana’s executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement

If we know anything about the drug crisis, it’s this: it knows no boundaries; it doesn’t discriminate.

It’s an epidemic that’s swept the nation, impacting people from every walk of life, from every corner of Indiana. As I travel the state, I’ve met people who live this struggle daily. Perhaps you know people, too.

Earlier this year, I met a high school student who began using drugs as a freshman. At first, she continued to maintain her grades, but halfway through her sophomore year, her substance dependence was controlling her life. Thankfully, with her parents’ support, she checked into a treatment center and received professional medical care – before it was too late.

Not every story is like hers. For many, the struggle to overcome substance use and maintain recovery is a daily struggle to avoid setbacks and death. It’s a struggle that hurts not only the individual who’s suffering, but their entire family as well.

The good news is there’s hope. Substance use doesn’t have to be a sentence. And, at the state level, we’re working every day to ensure that it isn’t.

On the day he took office, Gov. Eric Holcomb called for an “all hands on deck” approach to address the drug epidemic, and signed an executive order creating the position I’m privileged to hold.

In response to Gov. Holcomb’s call to action, many public and private partners have joined forces with us. Our Indiana Next Level Recovery initiatives have been amplified with millions of dollars in federal support and funding. We’re increasing access to treatment, helping prescribers with guidelines and working to reduce the stigma that sometimes prevents people from getting the help they need.

While progress is being made in Indiana, there’s still more work to do. Because it’s about far more than the statistics. It’s about saving lives.

That’s why I hope you’ll make plans to visit an exhibit that’s coming to Indiana State Museum in February 2020. FIX: Heartbreak and Hope Inside our Opioid Crisis will show you how this epidemic came to be, why addiction changes the brain, how treatment offers hope and that people do recover.

Make plans to visit the FIX exhibit and you’ll see that you’re part of the solution. What you’ll learn will help you better understand this crisis and how we can help our loved ones, friends and neighbors.

Together, we’ll change lives and turn tragedy to triumph in your neighborhood and our state.