At Monument Circle, purple lights recognize Hoosiers lost to overdose

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Monday is International Overdose Awareness Day. The goal every year is to raise awareness about overdose.

Think of all the ways the coronavirus pandemic has flipped our daily lives upside down. Now, imagine fighting with addiction on top of it all.

It’s a reality Brandon George understands because he’s in recovery himself.

“It’s intense. I go through waves. I think everything was in a really good spot for several months. But eventually, it starts to wear, and that emotional bank account, for anybody, I think starts draining after a period of time,” Brandon George, the executive director of the Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition, explained to News 8.

George said hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers struggle with addiction during the pandemic.

“So, in order to combat the epidemic, we’re asking people to isolate. For somebody with an addiction or substance use disorder, that’s the opposite of what we need connection, yet we’re separated from people,” George explained.

The heart of downtown Indianapolis was bathed in purple lights on Monument Circle as a tribute to people lost to overdose and their families.

State data shows there were more than 1,800 drug overdose deaths in Indiana in 2017.

“I hope everyone understands that first, substance use disorder is a disease. Treatment is available and most importantly, millions of people have recovered, and that recovery is possible and there’s hope.” Douglas Huntsinger, Indiana’s Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement explained to News 8.

It’s a message George hopes shines across Indiana.

“There is hope, regardless of where you’re at in your journey,” George explained. “There’s people there that care.”

Indiana’s Next Level Recovery program

  • Call 211 for help 24/7 or click here to go to Connect2Help.
  • Call the Indiana Addiction Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit here to chat live with a representative.
  • Through a partnership between Indiana 211 and OpenBeds, people seeking treatment for substance use disorder can be immediately connected with available inpatient or residential treatment services.
  • The Indiana Recovery Network also has extensive available resources.


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