Overdose Lifeline's Executive Director and Founder Justin Phillips was invited to provide testimony at the final hearing of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. What follows is Justin's testimony.
Thank you, Governor Christie, for the invitation to join the Commission today. Your leadership has been inspiring to me in my journey. Thank you each for agreeing to take on this complex issue. Americans are suffering and as you are aware losing the battle every day.
My name is Justin Phillips and I am the mother of three children Bryan, Aaron and Audrey. Tragically I am here today because Aaron, at the early age of 20, overdosed on heroin in October of 2013 and lost his life.
My professional career was spent preventing unintentional injuries and deaths and I had a masters in nonprofit management so when I became faced with this life altering experience I knew what had to be done.
Donnelly, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Address Workforce Shortage to Confront Opioid Epidemic
Strengthening the Addiction Treatment Workforce Act would provide incentives for providers to practice at substance use disorder treatment facilities in underserved areas.
Thursday, June 29, 2017, as announced from Senator Joe Donnelly's office
Washington, D.C. —U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced today that they introduced the Strengthening the Addiction Treatment Workforce Act (S.1453). Their bipartisan legislation would help address the shortage of providers who treat people battling substance use disorders by making addiction treatment facilities eligible for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) student loan repayment and forgiveness program.
This bill would allow mental health and addiction treatment facilities to expand the number of health care providers including nurses, social workers, counselors, psychologists, and therapists, who care for people struggling with substance use disorders. The National Health Service Corps facilitates recruitment and training aimed at increasing the availability of primary care services to populations in underserved areas. In Indiana, there are 59 counties that are considered underserved for primary care and 52 counties underserved for mental health care, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
Donnelly said, “We need more substance use and addiction professionals on the frontlines to help Hoosiers and Americans across the country battling addiction to opioids or other dangerous substances. This bipartisan legislation would increase the number of providers trained to help people get the treatment they need, and I am proud to work with Senator Murkowski on this effort. As I have long said, it is going to take all of us working together to effectively combat the opioid abuse epidemic, and while we are making some progress, we still have a lot of work to do.”
In the remaining days of December we reflect upon all that has been accomplished in 2016 to help the individuals, families, and communities affected by the disease of addiction and the opioid health crisis.
We pause momentarily to thank and honor our partners, our sponsors and donors, our volunteers, families and communities - all who have supported Overdose Lifeline's programs, initiatives and efforts. The organization has accomplished a lot in 2016. We could not have done so without all of you and your support.
What will 2017 bring? One thing we know for certain - 2017 will provide us with 365 days to do more!
Attorney General Zoeller announces additional grant for training, equipping first responders with Naloxone
More than 5,000 kits distributed and 90 lives saved in 2016
Press Release Indiana Attorney General, read here
INDIANAPOLIS–The Indiana Attorney General’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force will distribute an additional $400,000 grant to equip first responders with naloxone, the fast-acting antidote for people who have overdosed on prescription opioids or heroin.
Last January, Zoeller awarded an initial grant to Overdose Lifeline, Inc., the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and the Indiana State Police in response to the growing overdose epidemic throughout Indiana. The grant allowed the organizations to purchase nearly 7,500 kits. More than 5,000 kits have already been distributed to first responders to at least 45 counties statewide, and has resulted in at least 90 lives being saved since the program began.
The new grant will be administered by the nonprofit organization, Overdose Lifeline, Inc., a main provider of naloxone training and kits. Overdose Lifeline will expand efforts and prioritize counties that have not received initial kits and high risk counties. The Naloxone kits distributed are in the form of a nasal spray sold as Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, and work by reversing the effects of an overdose of heroin or other opiates.
About fifteen years ago I started having back problems. I kept hoping that it would go away but it just kept getting worse. Finally, after suffering sleepless nights and long days I went to the doctor. After trying several different treatments and nothing helping I resigned myself to the fact that prescription pain meds were going to be part of my life forever.
The problem began, as it typically does, when I realized that when I took my meds my brain “shut off”. By that I mean that for the first time in my entire life I knew what it felt like when people said they were “relaxing”.
I spent the next 12 years taking the meds my doctor prescribed and buying more when I ran out. The problem is that the first time that you start taking your meds for any reason other than why they were prescribed you have a problem, you just don’t admit it. I started taking them when I was mad or sad or happy or celebrating. It seemed as if I could no longer do the activities that I once enjoyed without being high.
It also became impossible to work unless I had pills. So, if I didn’t have any I would call in sick to begin the often relentless task of looking for drugs. The inevitable would eventually occur, I’d get fired or I would quit. When I would finally realize that I needed to go back to work for whatever reason, often times after not working for a year or two, I wouldn’t be able to get a job making what I had made before or that there weren’t any places that would hire me in my degree field because of lack of experience. My husband and I started having trouble paying our bills, even though we were both working full-time. It’s hard to pay the house payment and utilities and buy copious amounts of drugs. We eventually lost our house.
Road to Recovery - August 2016
Preventing and Addressing Opioid Misuse and Abuse: Our Nation’s Challenge
Earlier this summer, Overdose Lifeline was invited to participate in the filming of an episode of The Road to Recovery television show from SAMHSA. This show highlights recent trends in prescription opioid misuse and heroin use; opioid use disorders; and emergency department visits, overdose, and treatment episodes related to prescription opioids and heroin.