November 4, 2021

State to deploy street teams aimed at reducing drug overdoses


Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction's Madison Alton speaks to the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse. - (Screenshot of video meeting)

Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction's Madison Alton speaks to the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse.

(Screenshot of video meeting)

Indiana is directing nearly $2 million towards an effort to reach Hoosiers most at-risk of drug overdoses.

The state announced Thursday the launch of 10 Harm Reduction Street Teams, made possible by federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The harm reduction teams will carry naloxone and look to connect at-risk Hoosiers with treatment, medication, peer support and community help. Indiana Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement Doug Huntsinger said the goal of the teams is to reach people who aren’t accessing services or care.

“Go into some of the homeless camps in some of the areas and really find them and provide them the supports that they need,” Huntsinger said.

The teams will consist of two outreach workers and one supervisor. And they're expected to have knowledge of the community they work in, areas where people use drugs and harm reduction practices.

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Each team will be required to do weekly street outreach, make and distribute harm reduction kits and some data collection. The state will provide harm reduction training and ongoing technical assistance.

The ten teams are positioned around the state in communities with high overdose rates. Madison Alton is a database analyst with the state’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction.

“Put simply, the goal of these teams is to keep people alive,” Alton said.

Indiana saw a 33 percent increase in overdose deaths last year.

The programs awarded the funding for these teams are based in Allen, Delaware, Elkhart, Fayette, Fulton, Lake, LaPorte, Marion, Monroe, Porter, St. Joseph and Tippecanoe counties.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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