Chelsea Schneider, Innovations Content Manager, Aim

More communities will benefit from an innovative grant to fight the drug and opioid epidemic following a new round of funding from the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) Indiana.

The $35,000 in additional funds awarded to Aim follows the overwhelming response to the Aim Drug and Opioid Abuse Grant Program. The program, launched in 2018 by Aim, provides targeted community grants to cities and towns.

Altogether, RALI, an alliance committed to finding solutions to end the opioid crisis, has awarded Aim $85,000 toward the grants. In turn, Aim will distribute the funding and 20,000 safe drug disposal bags among 23 city and town governments. In July, Aim joined state and local officials at Beech Grove City Hall to celebrate the new funds for the grants.

“Leaders in every city and town in Indiana have developed their own unique approach to help their neighbors and constituents affected by this crisis, but often lack the resources to move forward,” Aim CEO Matt Greller said. “With such a large response to the announcement of this new program in December, we are grateful to RALI for this additional funding that will allow these communities to reach more Hoosiers.”

In Beech Grove, the city has grown its response to the drug and opioid crisis, including starting the Beech Grove Comprehensive Drug Free Coalition. As a grant recipient, the funding will go toward further enhancing the city’s efforts, Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley said.

“We’re here as part of our city’s continued effort to help those affected by the opioid epidemic and to find ways to educate as many people as we can on the signs of addiction and where to get help,” Buckley said. “The more resources and education we are able to provide, the greater the hope of getting more people to treatment before it is too late.”

State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, who represents Beech Grove, said she’s worked hard to create more opioid and addiction treatment centers in Indiana. As a result, no Hoosier is more than an hour away from treatment.

“It will truly take all of us together to bring this crisis under control,” Rep. Kirchhofer said. “We are however seeing signs of progress thanks to the work of so many people in communities like ours and on the state level from Governor Holcomb and our state’s Drug Czar Jim McClelland. The General Assembly is also dedicated to this issue.”

Along with Beech Grove, grant recipients include: Batesville, Bloomington, Cedar Lake, Chandler, Clarksville, Clermont, Columbus, Danville, Decatur, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Greenfield, Indianapolis, Lawrenceburg, Monticello, Nashville, Peru, Portland, Shelbyville, Warsaw and Waynetown. Several communities, including Churubusco, also will receive drug disposal kits that allow Hoosiers to safely get rid of unused prescription medication.

Among the grant’s uses, Clarksville will put its funding toward providing additional CPR and Narcan training for the town’s employees, not just the first responders. The town will then start using an app to alert individuals trained in overdose response of an incident in a public place with the possibility of them intervening before medics can arrive.

Indianapolis will send its funds to a center that helps keep those who’ve experienced a non-fatal overdose out of jail and out of the emergency room and direct them to mental health and services for preventative medicine. And in Beech Grove, the grant will go toward distributing materials in the community with contact information for the local drug free coalition, as well as national crisis and substance abuse prevention hotlines.

“Accelerate Indiana Municipalities is an organization that connects the leaders of municipalities statewide to help these communities reach their shared goals,” Greller said. “One of those goals is to lessen the impact the opioid epidemic has had on our state and to save lives by providing more Hoosiers with the education and treatment they need. Cities and towns have a unique role in this crisis because few entities can affect our daily lives or provide help as quickly or effectively as our local governments.”

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