The opioid epidemic was the topic of a discussion at Purdue University where Indiana’s drug czar, Jim McClelland, led the talk.
Indiana’s executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement, Jim McClelland was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb earlier this year and is tasked with tackling the state’s opioid epidemic.
He says the focus right now is to increase treatment access.
“Few people can recover without treatment,” McClelland says. “Medicated treatment is the gold standard, a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.”
Regenstrief Center for Health Care Engineering or RCHE hosted the discussion attended by public health officials, police, Purdue faculty, and people from the community.
RCHE director, Paul Griffin says McClelland understands the complexity of the issue and that there is no one size fits all.
“You can’t address a single component of it, you have to look at it as a system, but that’s hard. It takes community engagement and the commitment of a lot of different expertise and background,” says Griffin.
McClelland says stigma still a big issue.
“Everyone is willing to jump in and help recover from a natural disaster,” he says. “Unfortunately not as many are willing to help people recover from an opioid use disorder.”
Gibson says community support is key but everyone has to buy in. He uses Tippecanoe’s new needle exchange program as an example.
“Something that seems as simple as that to and help address this issue turns into a complicated community problem,” says Gibson.
McClelland says Indiana is actually ahead of other states. Recent moves have created five new treatment programs, instituted a Medicaid policy change to cover methadone and established a handful of pilot programs.