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IU Unveils $50M Plan To Help Reduce Opioid Addiction In Indiana

Posted On October 11, 2017

By Mike Perleberg

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie announces the $50 million Responding to the Addictions Crisis initiative. Governor Eric Holcomb sits at right.

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana University is pledging $50 million for a new effort to fight the state’s opioid addiction epidemic.

IU President Michael McRobbie said during a Tuesday press conference at the Indiana Statehouse that the effort, Responding to the Addictions Crisis, is the university’s newest Grand Challenges research program. The IU bicentennial program was first announced two years ago.

He called the opioid initiative the largest of its kind in the nation undertaken by a state university.

“People are dying and we must act,” said McRobbie.

The $50 million will be used over the next five years on substance abuse prevention, treatment, recovery, enforcement, and increasing education and certification of addiction professionals. Additionally, IU will involve all university departments to collect data on the scope of the crisis, train health care workers, and utilize multiple education departments to develop better social policy.

“IU’s efforts to respond to the addiction crisis will be aligned in this way with state and federal government efforts and will include collaboration with the Indiana congressional delegation, local communities, industry, NGOs, patient groups, and many others,” McRobbie added.

IU School of Nursing Dean Robin Newhouse will lead the initiative. She said data will be used to provide evidence on all elements of the addiction crisis.

Money for the opioid initiative will come from existing university funds.

Gov. Holcomb said the university’s new commitment will save lives.

“I’ve often said that if I could do but just one thing as governor, accomplish just one major thing, it would be to bend the trajectory of opioid abuse down and stay on the road to recovery as a state and as a people,” Holcomb said.

According to the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indiana is one of four states where fatal drug overdoses have more than quadrupled since 1999 – making Hoosiers more likely to die of a drug overdose than a vehicle crash. The economic cost of drug overdoses in the state has topped $1 billion annually.