Obama administration proposes $1.1 billion to address drug epidemic sweeping the nation

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INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 8, 2016) – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is warning local hospitals this week  that officials could see an uptick in heroin overdoses, in wake of Friday’s drug raid tied to the HIV outbreak in Scott County.

“When you cut off the supply, you see people move to heroin,” he said.

Across the country, state and federal officials and politicians are being forced to address the nationwide drug epidemic. In Indiana, and dozens of other states, federal officials report drug overdoses now kill more people than car crashes.

State lawmakers are working to pass a number of measures targeting drug felons and dealers.

“Take some very extensive steps to address our meth and heroin issues,” House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said last week.

Many argue, though, states can’t do it alone.

And the issue has grabbed the attention of presidential hopeful, especially in New Hampshire, one of the states hit hardest by heroin.

“It’s a disease and we need to get people the treatment they need,” Gov. Chris Christie said at Saturday night’s GOP debate on ABC News.

Last week the Obama administration announced it’s proposing $1.1 billion to help pay for drug treatment as part of the 2017 budget.

Nearly half that money would go toward individual states based on severity and the state’s plan to respond.

While administration officials haven’t elaborated on the criteria, treatment centers statewide have said they’re overwhelmed, adding additional federal dollars would not only be welcomed but are needed.

“We’re wildly unprepared for the number of people who are addicted,” Zoeller said. “So all of the treatment that is going to be necessary is going to require more funding.”

The Obama administration’s proposal still needs approval.

A number of state officials said they still haven’t been told how the money would be distributed and the application process needed to prove the epidemic’s severity and state’s plan to respond.

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