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Tuesday, Feb. 27
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion oped editorial

EDITORIAL: Fighting the heroin epidemic

ILLO: Heroin indiana

The turbulent ups and downs of national news and politics can be distracting from problems close to home.

While we fixate on the White House and Congress, what affects our neighbors can go overlooked and 
unfixed.

The scourge of the heroin epidemic is one of the most pressing local problems we face.

This is not some far-off crisis that we can ignore or wait to be solved. The heroin epidemic is not just a problem in Indianapolis, or the Region, or on the Ohio River.

The epidemic is here in Bloomington and affects the town and the student 
population.

This is a local problem, but it has a national reach as well. Since 2001, there has been a 500 percent increase in heroin overdoses, up to more than 10,000 Americans who overdosed in 2014, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

With the completion of I-69 growing ever closer, there is the danger of drugs coming down the pipeline from Houston, Detroit and Chicago.

More than just the flow of heroin between Indianapolis and Bloomington, our college town is in danger of becoming a narcotic waypoint between these major cities.

The question isn’t whether we have a problem but how we can fight it.

The Editorial Board hopes we take an “all of the above” strategy to combat this epidemic, focusing on treatment, community outreach and rehabilitation, while at the same time ensuring aggressive enforcement of drug laws.

On the state level, there should be a combination of legislation relating to how opioid drugs are prescribed, expanding needle exchange programs and enacting new provisions helping local and state law enforcement crack down on dealers and 
suppliers.

The Editorial Board applauds Gov. Eric Holcomb and the legislature for their aggressive and bipartisan tackling of the issue.

Gov. Holcomb made tackling this fight one of his top five legislative priorities and heavily emphasized the need to combat this threat during his State of the State speech several weeks ago.

Former Gov. Mike Pence was reluctant to start needle exchanges, and propelled the HIV problems in Indiana due to 
inaction.

Yesterday, these promises took a step toward reality when the Indiana House passed a bipartisan bill allowing for more local control over establishing needle 
exchanges.

The Editorial Board hopes there will be continued work at the Statehouse to 
introduce and pass laws dedicated to pushing back against heroin use in the state.

On the local level, Mayor John Hamilton and the Bloomington Police Department should continue to work to provide Naxolone and treatment options to users while working to get dealers off the streets.

The Editorial Board believes University should continue offering sufficient overdose treatment at the Health Center, while also investigating how to best serve students affected by this epidemic either personally or through family.

This is a problem bigger than all of us and as Indiana has led in the past, we hope our state leads now.

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