On February 27, Senate Bill 111was referred to the House for further consideration. The bill, authored by Senators Eric Koch, Erin Houchin, and John Crane, seeks to establish the Community and Faith Based Substance Abuse Program. If passed, SB 111 will enable the Division of Mental Health and Addiction to establish and administer this grant. The legislation would also fund a Community and Faith Based Substance Abuse Transportation Assistance Grant Program. Signaling widespread support for the bill, SB111 moved quickly through the Senate Family and Children Services and Appropriations committees. Twenty-three days after its first reading in the Senate, SB 111 passed with a roll call vote of 49 yeas and 0 nays. Unfortunately to date there has been no movement on the bill since being forwarded to the House of Representatives.
This bill, if passed, will help Hoosiers struggling with substance abuse across the state. Enabling both community and faith based programs to apply for grants to help with recovery is an important step in the right direction. According to a 2017 report by the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, 5.9% of Hoosiers had an alcohol use disorder within a year of the study. 30.8% of Hoosiers also reported tobacco use in the past month. These numbers, as well as the continued prevalence of hard drug use by some, are alarming. Understanding that substance abuse is an issue which affects individuals and families across the state, it is commendable that the General Assembly is considering such a bill. Hopefully, Senate Bill 111 will become law in the not to distant future.
When asked to comment on whether the bill would be helpful to the homeless population served by Lafayette Urban Ministry Emergency Shelter director, David Heckert commented, “It would be another option for our homeless guests a majority of whom struggle with addiction. It would also be a resource for building the capacity of existing programs as well as helping to starting new ones by making additional state and Federal funds available. I am pleased that providers, policy makers, and law enforcement officials are now considering addiction to be a chronic disease rather than a personal choice.”
To view the Report on Substance Abuse in Indiana, click HERE.