Inside INdiana Business is reporting that a recently-launched program targeting opioid use disorders in rural areas throughout the state is exploring expansion. The Linton-based Indiana Rural Health Association has received a $200,000 federal grant that will fund a comprehensive planning process designed to boost treatment support in 11 counties with high overdose rates. The plan, which the nonprofit says builds on the work of its Indiana Rural Opioid Consortium, will target four areas: best practices, access, additional recovery communities and reducing the stigma associated with the issue.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, IRHA Project Director Allison Orwig said workforce and treatment options will be examined. She says the need for more investigation and solutions for the epidemic is of “paramount importance.” Orwig added the 11 counties “suffer from significantly higher OUD prevalence rates and in general have higher hospital emergency department visits due to heroin and prescription opioid overdose.” Participants include Boone, Cass, Fayette, Franklin, Jennings, Lawrence, Orange, Scott, Union, Washington and Wayne counties.
Over the next year, experts involved with the IRHA-created task force will collect data and develop a plan that could help the organization gain additional funding or drive it toward implementation. The Indiana Opioid Consortium, which includes participation from the IRHA and several others throughout the state, launched a year ago through a $750,000 federal grant.
IRHA Executive Director Don Kelso calls opioid use disorders “a chronic, persistent and very serious public health concern in the state.” He says “IRHA, through the InROC program, has already achieved considerable impact on behavioral health access and opioid use disorder in four rural counties in Indiana, and this new planning initiative will allow us to expand the recovery vision to 11 counties.”
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