EDITORIAL: IU to address ‘Grand Challenge’ of Opioids

People who live in Indiana are more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car crash.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that more than 90 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. And Indiana’s problem is particularly acute. It is one of four states where overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 1999. Those statistics were highlighted by Indiana University officials who joined Gov. Eric Holcomb at the Statehouse Tuesday to announce a new effort funded by $50 million in university money to fight opioid abuse.

Gov. Holcomb joined I.U. President Michael McRobbie to announce the effort to reduce opioid abuse as part of the university’s “Grand Challenges” program, which seeks solutions for vexing problems. I.U. plans to use the money and its academic expertise to help collect data on the scope of the problem, train health care workers and craft better policy.

“If I could do but just one thing as governor — accomplish just one major thing,” Holcomb said in Tuesday’s announcement, “it would be to bend the trajectory of opioid abuse down.”

The governor has made the issue a cornerstone of his agenda. He previously signed a bill that lets local counties implement needle exchange programs to give heroin users clean syringes.

And five new treatment centers are planned, including one in Allen County.

The state has pledged up to $1.5 million to get the facility started, and that will be matched by local funds, with ongoing support expected from state and federal governments.

Concerned citizens throughout the state are looking for ways to battle the problem. Here’s to I.U., Gov. Holcomb and everyone else joining in the fight.