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INDIANAPOLIS– The Marion County Public Health Department announced a new program Wednesday that aims to treat substance use disorder and reduce overdoses by offering treatment options.

The program is called Stronger with Support. It will work in conjunction with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, the Marion County Public Defender Agency and private legal counsel to provide treatment instead of punitive measures for those charged with minor drug offenses or who have issues with substance use.

The prosecutor’s office will refer candidates to the program. The health department is working to identify partners who will help provide services for the participants.

The program is funded by a three-year grant provided to the health department by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The health department will use $1.36 million each year to create initiatives like this one in an ongoing effort to reduce overdoes in Marion County.

“Creating alternatives to prison by treating substance use disorder and impacting other socioeconomic issues will allow Stronger with Support to help our community address some of the root causes of crime,” said Virginia A. Caine, M.D., Director and Chief Medical Officer of the Marion County Public Health Department.

Officials say the program will help participants get treatment for substance use while enhancing public safety in the community.

“The criminal justice system is not equipped to properly address issues of public health. The Stronger with Support Program will allow us to divert residents struggling with substance use and addiction out of the criminal justice system to the recovery services they need to be successful,” said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears. “We are proud to partner with the Marion County Public Health Department and the Public Defender Agency to better serve our community through a wide variety of health services.”