INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana is one of the leading states when it comes to combating the nation’s drug crisis.
That’s why United States Drug Czar Jim Carroll visited the state Wednesday.
He was at the Indiana State Fair with Governor Eric Holcomb all afternoon, and then headed to Boone County to learn more about programs there.
“Indiana is doing great,” said Carroll.
Nationally, the number of drug deaths have gone down by five% in the last year, but in Indiana, they’ve gone down by 12%.
“You’re more than double here in Indiana,” explained Carroll.
He said that success stems from Hoosiers reaching out to help.
“Not only with a warm hand but also with dollars to make sure that the people can access the treatment that they so desperately need,” said Carroll.
Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen’s jail program is an example of that.
“This sheriff is known nationally for what he is doing and bringing inmates along with people in the community together," said Carroll. "So, when they walk out of the jail cell, they already have a place to go. They already feel like they are getting help.”
Sheriff Nielsen said mental health problems and drug addiction usually go hand in hand.
“We have to treat both of those in order to make a difference, and that’s the key that we are trying to do,” said Nielsen.
In the last six months, his treatment program has decreased inmate return rate by 7%. His goal is to get that number up to 18% in three years.
“That’s a tough, very high, achievable goal, but I think we can make it,” said Nielsen.
Carroll said he talks to President Donald Trump about this almost every week.
“And with the president losing a brother to an addiction, we talk a lot about people needing help and getting into treatment,” said Carroll.
The Drug Czar is looking forward to sharing what he learned here and how this administration can help.
“You all are a success story here in Indiana that the warmth and the embrace that you all are giving your family and your neighbors and your coworkers is making a difference,” said Carroll.
“It makes me happy that they see us in the White House as being the leader," added Nielsen. "I’m excited about that, but we have a long way to go.”
Sheriff Nielsen is getting ready to implement a new medically assisted treatment program in October.
He hopes this meeting with the Drug Czar results in some federal funding to continue this success here and across the country.