In October, Indiana University President Michael McRobbie announced the university’s commitment to fight the opioid addiction crisis in our state. This work commences in response to Governor Eric J. Holcomb’s recently announced Strategic Approach to Addressing Substance Abuse in Indiana. The urgency can readily be understood:
Indiana is one of four states where the fatal drug overdose rate has more than quadrupled since 1999. Hoosiers are now more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car accident. According to the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI, the total cost of drug overdoses in Indiana tops $1 billion annually, measured in medical expenses and lifetime earnings losses.
Indiana is not alone in this crisis. In 2016, more people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. than the total number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. (Link)
This is the third of Grand Challenges addressing statewide challenges with the resources of the campuses of the IU system:
Our third Grand Challenge, Responding to the Addictions Crisis, aims to reduce deaths from addiction, ease the burden of drug addiction on Hoosier communities, and help to improve health and economic outcomes. Utilizing IU’s seven campuses, and in partnership with state officials, IU Health, Eskenazi Health and others, this statewide initiative is one of the nation’s most comprehensive state-based responses to the opioid addiction crisis—and the largest led by a university.
See also this overview of the initiative written by Randall Shepard of the Indiana Business Journal.
Question for future blog posts: How will the public university share information with the diverse groups of citizens, health care professionals, educators, elected officials, journalists, students, and others who need to have a clear understanding of the crisis in order to assist in the state’s response?