Indiana Governor announces Funds to curb drug epidemic

Gov. Holcomb announces $1.7 million investment in harm reduction teams to curb drug epidemic

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (STL.News) Gov. Eric J. Holcomb today announced the state will fund a $1.7 million implementation of statewide Harm Reduction Street Outreach (HRSO) teams to reach Hoosiers at-risk of drug overdose. The initiative is a combined effort of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration and the Indiana Department of Health.

“Substance use is aggressively attacking Hoosier lives, families, and communities,” Gov. Holcomb said.  “These teams will meet Hoosiers with substance use disorder where they’re at through street outreach efforts and provide them with the safe tools and resources necessary to keep them alive.”

Indiana reported a 33% increase in fatal overdoses in 2020, according to provisional data released in July by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HRSO teams are comprised of one supervisor and two outreach workers who provide harm reduction strategies and resources such as naloxone and pamphlets to members of the community.  Organizations employing HRSO teams must have a connection to the local community, with knowledge of areas where illicit substance use is high.  Organizations are also connected to the community through harm reduction, substance use, recovery, or homeless services.

Funds were made available by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Prevention and Treatment Block Grants for COVID-19 relief, received by the FSSA Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA).

DMHA requested a proposal from interested candidates including a project narrative and budget.  Proposals also included details regarding extent of need in the community, how this project meets those needs, plans for staffing, previous harm reduction experience, and budget-related details.

The awardees include:

  • The Artistic Recovery; Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties
  • Recovery Café Fulton County (We Bloom, Inc.)
  • Recovery Café Indy (We Bloom, Inc.); Marion County
  • The Never Alone Project; Marion County
  • Fayette County Connection Café
  • Open Door Health Services and Addictions Coalition of Delaware County
  • Gateway to Hope and Meridian Health Services; Tippecanoe County
  • Indiana Recovery Alliance; Monroe County
  • Project ME FW, Inc.; Allen County
  • AIDS Ministries/AIDS Assist of North Indiana; Elkhart and St. Joseph counties
  • DMHA received 25 proposals, with the ability to fund 10 teams. Of these applicants, 22 agencies were not current vendors with DMHA.

“Given the impact of COVID-19 on Indiana’s overdose rate and the rise in fentanyl use, it’s important that we make these critical tools and resources accessible to those in need,” said Douglas Huntsinger, executive director for drug prevention, treatment, and enforcement for the state of Indiana.  “Hoosiers are answering the call.  They are on the front lines of the drug epidemic, reducing the chance of overdose and promoting treatment and recovery.”

All teams will receive harm reduction-specific training organized by DMHA before engaging participants.