Updated Nov. 8 at 11:15 a.m.
Jim McClelland, Indiana’s executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement, says he’s retiring.
McClelland was appointed as the state’s drug czar in January 2017, through an executive order from Gov. Eric Holcomb. That year there were more than 1,800 drug overdose deaths.
McClelland says since then, the state has made many strides.
"We’re on a good path, we’re seeing encouraging trends, we have a long way yet to go, it’s going to take a long time," says McClelland. "But we’re definitely moving in the right direction."
McClelland had previously retired as Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana CEO. The announcement came at a meeting of the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse.
In a statement Thursday, Holcomb praised McClelland’s work coordinating the state’s Next Level Recovery initiative.
“His passion and expertise in building systems that work to help people have given Indiana’s response to the drug crisis strong positive momentum,” Holcomb said. “I’m grateful for his service to our state and congratulate him on his well-deserved retirement.”
McClelland says he’s proud of how Hoosiers have rallied behind the cause.
"We’ve seen a lot of people really start to be engaged in this, in very significant ways," says McClelland.
McClelland says even though drug deaths declined more than 12 percent in 2018, there is still much work to be done. He says he would like to see increased substance abuse prevention in schools and more trauma-informed communities.
Doug Huntsinger will take over for McClelland. Huntsinger has overseen operational aspects of the state’s response to the drug crisis for the past three years.
McClelland’s retirement is official on Jan. 9, 2020.
This story has been updated. Indiana Public Broadcasting's Lauren Chapman contributed to this story.