NEW ALBANY — The CDC reported 91,799 drug overdose deaths in 2020 with nearly 75% opioid-related.

Hoosier Action has made it a mission to put an end to addiction and overdoses in Indiana.

The group met with community members and officials Thursday at Park Christian Church in New Albany to discuss the overdose crisis, how to put an end to overdoses in the community and how to teach people to use Narcan, a treatment for opioid overdoses.

State Rep. Ed Clere of New Albany, New Albany City Council President Jason Applegate and New Albany City Councilmember Adam Dickey attended.

Hoosier Action wants to have all first responders carry Narcan at all times, to equip more local organizations to dispense or carry Narcan and to increase the number of trash cans with syringe disposal in the community.

“We know the only way we can save lives is if we have a shared understanding of what we’re doing and what solutions work,” said Carissa Miller, Hoosier Action Leader. “So this meeting tonight is a space for us to build that collective understanding together as a community.”

The CDC reported that about 2,480 people died from drug overdoses in Indiana in 2021. The Indiana State Police reported that 824 people died in a fatal car accident in 2021.

“It is the leading cause of death for people under 50,” said Tony Hostetler, Hoosier Action Leader. “It’s killing 18- 20-year-olds, It’s killing a generation.”

Incarcerated people are more likely to die within the first two weeks of being released. To combat the number of people dying after being released and to lower recidivism rates, Hoosier Action wants to incorporate substance abuse treatment into jails.

“When we look at someone who’s been incarcerated, we’ve made this a moral issue and not really about the pain that people experience,” Miller said. “We’ve criminalized people who use substances, we condemn them to die alone from preventable deaths.”

Along with having first responders and more places to receive Narcan, Hoosier Action wants to train more people how to administer Narcan.

Tracy Skaggs, the founder of Project Recovery Southern Indiana, taught everyone at the event how to administer Narcan properly.

“Before I became pro Narcan, for about 40 years of my life, it was the face of addiction, I’m only 50 years old,” Skaggs said. “Narcan is harmless, unless if you have opioids in your system, the only thing it does is reverse the opioids in the brain for a short period of time.”

To prove her point, Skaggs took some Narcan in front of the crowd. She acted as she did before she took it.

If you would like to learn more about Hoosier Action and help combat the overdose epidemic in Indiana, go to their website at https://www.hoosieraction.org/

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