Lafayette, IND. (WLFI) - A group of Tippecanoe County leaders is taking on the challenge of the opioid epidemic. They hope targeting it on a community level will help combat this statewide issue.
The group is comprised of a wide variety of community leaders. Ranging from community health leaders, addiction psychiatrists, and even the county prosecutor. They are all on board to tackle this issue from every angle.
All the people in the room are passionate about the cause, some even had the personal connection with the loss of a loved one to addiction.
“The biggest thing for us is coordinating the efforts of different groups in the community and that's the important part of a task force like this is having all those voices here,” said task force facilitator and CEO of Greater Lafayette United Way, Michael Budd.
This was the sixth time the group has met this year. The main purpose of today’s gathering was to share the progress of each of the four committees.
These four committees also serve as the main topics the group is focusing on: prevention, treatment, recovery, and law enforcement. All of these are interdependent on each other according to the group.
Many of the committees had overlapping themes including ending the stigma around addiction, creating a plan for legislation, how to communicate services and resources to the public, and the need for collecting more data.
The law enforcement committee brought up the idea for a community app that would incorporate Google Maps. The app would pool all the different national and local resources into one convenient place.
Because at the end of the day, this is not just a Tippecanoe County problem.
“It’s really a fundamental issue for not just greater Lafayette but for Indiana and for our country right now and how do we address these key issues,” said Budd.
Beth Snyder was among those at the meeting. She is the Executive Director for Lighthouse Recovery Home, an organization that helps get addicts back on their feet. She says the opioid epidemic is like a runaway train.
“My residents are coming in, they know four, five people like their brother or their best friend or their two friends they grew up with, are all passed away now,” she said. “And they were less than 30 years old.”
She just wants to see the funerals of these young people stop. Budd says one way to do this is by doing your homework and being aware of what medications come into your life.
"Be thoughtful about your own medication, be thoughtful about what your children are being prescribed at the doctors or the dentists," he said.
Another way is by not being afraid to ask for help and going to the right resources.
"This is not a character flaw,” he said. “It's a disease and helping people in the community understand that it's ok to get help."
Snyder said that being a united front against the issue is crucial to overcoming it.
“It is fixable it, it is treatable,” she said. “But the task force that we are doing now, I believe is unity and everyone has to be united.”
Bud emphasized that many people want to see change happening now, but impactful change takes time. He wants those people to know that this group is working hards towards making a difference.
Snyder is spreading the word of another way people can get more involved through becoming a certified addiction coach. Click here to learn more about how to get certified.