The core pledges of my campaign include efforts to foster community cohesion and protect Charlestown families and citizens. One way to bring these goals into alignment with each other is to bolster community health initiatives in the public sector.
It’s no secret that Charlestown has been affected by the opioid abuse crisis currently plaguing our state. Recently a study conducted by the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation (RMFF) revealed that opioid related deaths in Indiana have increased 75% in the last six years. Last year more than 1,700 Hoosiers lost their lives to opioid abuse.
Closer to home, Clark County has experienced a slight decline in overdose deaths from 2016-2017, but rates of newly diagnosed HIV and chronic Hepatitis C are increasing with the prevalence of injectable drug use.
The RMFF has called upon all Hoosiers to address the opioid crisis. From legislators to educators, from the governor’s office to City Hall, we all should be concerned about how this crisis impacts our communities.
Efforts to increase treatment opportunities for those addicted to opioids and other dangerous drugs are in the works at the state level. Most professionals agree that medical assisted treatment offers the most promising avenue for addicts to move into recovery. Charlestown itself is home to the largest opioid treatment center in the state. A report by the News and Tribune from October 13th of this year explained that the Southern Indiana Comprehensive Treatment Center treats approximately 900 people every day.
Treatment for addicts, however, is only half of the equation for addressing the opioid crisis.
I believe it is vital for Charlestown to address the impact of opioid abuse on our families.
For this reason, I intend to encourage and support public support groups for families in crisis due to addiction and the rising opioid abuse epidemic.
The costs associated with ignoring the opioid epidemic are just too high. In addition to lost lives, unaddressed addiction impacts the local economy and overall community health. A mayor who takes action on this issue can help reduce crime, bolster the workforce economy, and improve academic achievement within the community.
Research by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that creating opportunities for public conversations about drug abuse can be an effective way to bring members of the community together, encourage those affected to seek treatment, and create a more engaged citizenry.
Our community health is extremely important. This initiative is one way that I plan to help us Keep Charlestown First while moving us Forward.