INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Gov. Mike Pence called for a new approach to the battle against drug abuse Tuesday as he appointed a 21 member task force to find solutions to a serious problem.
Indiana is 16th in the country in the number of heroin overdose deaths. There have been 152 heroin deaths in Indiana this year.
When the governor signed an executive order creating a new drug task force Sharon Blair was at his side. She is an advocate for families dealing with addiction.
“Incarceration and death are the final outcomes of addiction not treated,” she said in an interview.
And when the governor conducted a roundtable discussion on drug abuse, Blair took part.
“I keep asking for billboards,” she told the group, “like, we need billboards that truly address this task force that let people know that we’re working on things.”
The governor says he wants a three pronged approach to the problem.
“First and foremost, if you are dealing in drugs in this state,” he said, “we’re coming for ya.”
Addiction treatment and drug prevention are the other two elements.
The newly formed task force will have $10 million to spend this year, $20 million next year.
But Steve McCaffrey of Mental Health America says it will take more than money. “It’s easy to say what we need to do,” he said. “It’s hard to actually make that happen.”
Sharon Blair has some suggestions.
“We don’t have enough treatment services,” she said. “We don’t have detox facilities, enough of them.”
She does it in memory of her daughter, Jennifer Reynolds, who died of a drug overdose.
The Drug Task Force will conduct public meetings over the next three months in South Bend, Indianapolis and Evansville.
It will then develop strategies for battling the drug problem.