The Crisis in Indiana

Addiction affects every aspect of Hoosier life

The addiction crisis continues to have a devastating effect across the state of Indiana. Nearly one in 12 Hoosiers, almost a half million people, meet the criteria for having a substance use disorder. People are dying, those who need help often can’t get the treatment they need, and the well-being of future generations is under threat. Addiction is one of the largest problems the state faces:

  • Drug overdoses in Indiana have nearly doubled since 2010, growing from 923 to 1,809 in 2017.
  • Approximately 4,000 Hoosiers have died from opioids in the last decade.
  • Indiana’s drug-induced mortality rate quadrupled between 2000 and 2014.
  • More Hoosiers now die from drug overdoses than car crashes.
  • Between 2012 and 2016, deaths related to synthetic opioids in Indiana increased over 600 percent.

Street drug use has risen

As doctors have taken measures to restrict the opioids they prescribe, the use of street alternatives to avoid withdrawal has grown. Heroin and fentanyl have a much higher chance of causing an overdose than prescription drugs. Use of street drugs also causes rates of infectious diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV to increase.

Treatment is lacking

Hoosiers who want to stop using drugs are faced not only with the challenge of physical withdrawal, but also with poor access to treatment, particularly medication-assisted treatment (MAT), the evidence-based standard for opioid treatment. Treatment that is available is often costly or far from home. Some areas of the state have no addiction treatment at all.

Societal barriers are daunting

Even when Hoosiers are willing to find a treatment center and get help, they often face societal barriers. The stigma attached to “addiction” and “addict” is strong. Addiction is often viewed as a choice, not a chronic illness. The opinions of others that addiction is a choice, not a disease, can prevent those suffering from addiction from seeking help.

These societal barriers are often amplified by the incarceration cycle. Inmates with addiction in the criminal justice system need help the most, yet rarely receive treatment. Nationally, about 90 percent of inmates do not receive addiction treatment services, and three-quarters of individuals imprisoned for a drug-related offense are arrested for a new crime within five years of release.

Prisoners are also as much as 129 times more likely to die of a drug overdose during the two weeks following release from prison than those in the general population. Hoosiers released from jail will likely return to drug use because their addiction hasn’t been adequately treated. After a period of not using drugs during incarceration, though, tolerance is lowered and risks for overdose increase.

The economic impact is serious

Over the past 15 years, opioid use has cost the state more than $43 billion in direct and indirect costs. The figure in 2017 was $4.3 billion, nearly $11 million a day. Non-lethal opioid overdoses cost over $224 million in hospitalization costs in 2016 alone, with an additional $297 million in other opioid-related hospital stays. Every day the addiction crisis is taking money away from Hoosiers.

Children are at risk

The addiction crisis is not only killing Hoosiers and costing the state billions, but also damaging future generations of Hoosiers. Almost one in 10 young people 18-25 years old reported nonmedical use of prescription pain medication in the past year. One in 20 adolescents, ages 12-17 years, reported misuse of prescription pain medication in the past year as well.

Indiana also has one of the nation’s largest increases in children being removed from their homes due to family drug use. In 2016, more than 50 percent of cases of children removed from their homes by the Indiana Department of Child Services were due to drug or alcohol use by a parent—a rate that rose more than 50 percent since 2013. Children with an addicted family member are four times more likely to misuse drugs or alcohol.

Hoosier children are becoming more at risk for developing addictions at a younger age. Researchers recently reported that the rates for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which occurs in newborns exposed to opioids while in the womb, and maternal opioid use have increased nearly five-fold in the United States between 2000 and 2012, with disproportionately larger increases in rural areas. More and more babies are being born with illnesses that will impact them far into the future.