Turning Hope Into Action: Evaluating the Opioid Crisis in Fort Wayne and Allen County | 3


If you or a family member experienced opioid use disorder or opioid dependence, you don’t need this report to tell you there’s a problem here in Fort Wayne and Allen County. If your only knowledge com es from news reports, you may not know the scale of the problem so this document may be eye-opening. Either way, leaders in Fort Wayne and Allen County are working to limit improper use of opioids. There is reason for hope.

This report is a result of stakeholders convened by The Lutheran Foundation from December 2017 through March 2018 who are working to address the disease of opioid use disorder, specifically, and substance use disorder generally. It lists the good work now being done and the areas that need to be addressed as resources of time, talent and treasure become available. The IPFW Community Research Institute conducted interviews and reviewed outside sources to supplement the information gathered during the subcommittee process.

First and foremost, people in Fort Wayne and Allen County are interested in working together, across occupations and industries. Collaboration is already happening. Plus some of the solutions listed in this report could be implemented with existing staff and not many dollars. Others will require more people, money and time. Although this effort had opioids as the central focus, many of the needed tools apply to substance use disorder. This work cannot be confined to people with opioid use disorder. 

Using the state of Indiana’s strategic plan on substance abuse as a guide, this report looks at the opioid crisis in four primary areas with the greatest need for each segment listed:

  1. Prevention: Education about opioids and developing resiliency skills with an emphasis on the school-age population and their parents.
  2. Intervention: Ability to seamlessly go from identifying misuse to entering treatment and recovery.
  3. Treatment/Recovery: Resources to expand services, especially for more mental health professionals.
  4. Enforcement: Expansion of existing treatment and recovery services for people in the criminal justice system.

Interestingly, the distinctions among the subcommittees started to collapse as they worked through this process. For example, a drug possession arrest could serve an intervention function to cause the offender to enter a treatment and recovery program.

One of the challenges of this project was merely staying on top of the news relating to opioids. It came fast and furious, from national media sources to the Indiana General Assembly. Legislative updates from this year’s session are in this report.

While many reports get quickly shelved upon their completion, this work is just beginning. Although some measures of the opioid crisis are improving, like a reduction in the number of opioid prescriptions, others are worsening, such as the number of people dying from accidental opioid poisonings. Fort Wayne and Allen County is ready to turn hope into action when it comes to the opioid crisis.

Read the full report here.

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