Hoosiers react to opioid epidemic declaration

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- Hoosiers impacted by the opioid crisis are reacting to President Trump’s declaration of a national public health emergency.

Declaring this a national public health emergency isn’t a magic bullet that’s going to solve the problem fast, but a lot of people are hoping it at least gets the conversation going towards a permanent solution.

For Kirsten Calhoun’s son, Brandon Beeler, opioid addiction was too powerful. He died from an overdose at just 23 years old.

“He was a very vibrant personality,” said Calhoun.

For her, the president’s announcement came as welcome news.

“I think it’s a good thing that he made that announcement,” said Calhoun, “it was a long time coming.”

She hopes the designation will provide more access to treatment, resources for families, and better counseling.

“I think it’s a good thing that he said we need to be more compassionate about this,” said Calhoun.

Despite the official declaration, no additional federal funds will go to fight the epidemic, at least initially. Federal agencies, however, are being directed to quickly allocate more grant money already in their budgets towards tackling the problem.

“This is a very complex problem and it’s going to take a complex solution,” said IU School of Nursing Dean, who is leading a team of researchers as part of the IU Grand Challenge, an effort that’s pumping $50 million into fighting the epidemic in Indiana. She said the President’s declaration is an important part of that fight.

“It actually helps to organize our thinking, organize our focus, get people together working in a different way to solve an important problem,” said Newhouse.

Yet for those like Calhoun, an uncomfortable question remains, will the declaration help, or turn out to be empty political talk?

“I hope it’s not just words and ‘Hey, yeah, we’re going to declare a public health emergency but yet it’s still kind of going to be swept under the rug,’” said Calhoun, “you can’t sweep this under the rug because it’s not going away anytime soon.”

This designation by President Trump only lasts for 90 days, but it can be renewed.

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