GREENFIELD — Greenfield and its battle against opioid addiction is the backdrop of the first in a series of videos being produced by U.S. Sen. Todd Young’s office to promote the senator’s Fair Shot Agenda — a legislative plan he says will focus on giving Hoosiers equal opportunity to succeed.
Young, who took office at the start of 2017, says in the video that in order to succeed, people will need help breaking down the barriers that keep them from reaching their potential. Legislation at the federal level can help in that cause, the Republican said.
He’s identified four key areas — opportunity, safety, health and better government — in which those barriers commonly fall, according to his website.
Addiction, particularly to opioids, is keeping people from being healthy and ripping healthy families apart, the website says.
Young visited Greenfield in the fall to speak with officials of the Greenfield Fire Territory and learn more about the addiction-related emergency calls they deal with every day. And he seemed “legitimately concerned with the issues” both first responders and patients face, said fire chief James Roberts, who is featured in the video, along with RJ Beaver, division chief of the department’s EMS program.
Roberts said he was contacted by Young’s office about a month ago to arrange the visit. Young then visited the fire station in downtown Greenfield for about an hour, listening as Roberts and Beaver told stories about overdose calls to which they’ve responded.
In the video, which was posted on Young’s social media accounts Wednesday, Beaver tells the story of a woman who paramedics were called to help three times in three months because of overdoses. She was 23 weeks pregnant when paramedics first met her.
In so many communities, the opioid crisis is a top issue, Young says in the video. He wants to do what he can to help people kick those habits.
Young and outgoing Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., voted earlier in the fall to pass a bipartisan bill intended to fight the opioid epidemic. Both senators sponsored provisions that focus on expanding the use of non-opioid and non-addictive pain medications and treatments, and bringing them to the market and to patients faster.
“This is the holy grail of pain management, finding non-addictive drugs to manage pain,” Young was quoted as saying, noting that opioids created by private companies to manage pain contributed to today’s opioid crisis.
Leaders in Greenfield and Hancock County have worked hard to combat addiction while providing first responders and those who suffer from addictions with more resources.
The Greenfield Police Department and Hancock County Sheriff’s Department in 2015 each announced plans to hire detectives dedicated to catching drug dealers. Prior to that announcement, the county had gone five years without a dedicated drug enforcement effort.
Police officers also carry Narcan — an overdose-reversing drug — in their cars in order to quickly administer aid to those in distress. Dozens of public seminars on combating opioids have also been held.
Local leaders have worked hard to create treatment options locally, mainly by expanding court-provided resources.
For example, the Hancock County Probation Department created the heroin protocol in 2016. This program aims to treat offenders who are addicted to opioids. After pleading guilty to their crimes, offenders who enroll in the program are sent to serve their sentence in a halfway house program rather than in traditional lockdown.
Then, in October, the first recovery house, Talitha Koum, opened in the city after receiving much-needed financial support from both Greenfield and Hancock County. Already, the nine beds available there are full, officials say.