Every day, 129 Americans die of a drug overdose, with 61 percent of those deaths relating to pharmaceutical opioids or heroin. Indiana is not immune to this spreading epidemic. In fact, the number of heroin overdoses in the state increased 2.7 times from 2011 to 2014.

This week is Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week, drawing attention to the dangerous cycle of opioid misuse and heroin abuse across the country.

State lawmakers are working to address the growing drug problem in Indiana.

A new law is preventing fatal drug overdoses by permitting pharmacies to sell overdose intervention drugs, like Narcan, over-the-counter without a prescription. Narcan is a safe, non-addictive medication that reverses the effects of drug overdoses. Making medicine like Narcan readily available can save lives in the event of an overdose of heroin or prescription pain medicine. Indiana also provides Narcan training for first responders and the general population.

Another new law requires Medicaid coverage for inpatient detoxification for the treatment of opioid or alcohol dependence. This law is a product of the Attorney General’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force and will provide an evidence-based comprehensive approach to opioid treatment through clinical practice guidelines.

Many overdoses are a result of prescription drug abuse. To help prevent prescription drug abuse, find a Drug Take-Back Location near you.

During this week and moving forward, we encourage you to start conversations with your family and friends about the devastating effects of opioid and heroin abuse. If you or someone you know is seeking treatment, please visit BitterPill.IN.gov.