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Free drug-disposal kits to be distributed across Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More and more Hoosiers are dying from opioid overdoses, but Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said Friday he hopes a new plan will help.

That plan involves thousands of small bags that can fit inside your pocket or purse.

To use them, you just open them up, put in any pills or prescription drugs you don’t want. Then put a little water inside, seal it, shake it and throw it away.

Some of the state’s top officials and firefighters believe the kits will save lives. They will be watching the Indianapolis program and eventually expand it across Indiana. 

State Rep. Dan Forestal, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said he often sees people dealing with the physical impact of opioid overdose.

“A lot of foaming at the mouth. Very pale. Very cyanotic looking. Blue in the fingertips,” Forestal said.

He knows because he’s an Indianapolis firefighter. 

“Absolutely, people are dying from it,” the state lawmaker explained.

Forestal and Tom Hanify, president of the Professional Firefighters Union of Indiana said the eventual plan is to expand the kit program statewide. 

“Maybe this takes some of these substances, some of these opioids, off the streets and not get people addicted.” Hanify said.

The hope is to eventually put the program in more than 800 fire departments across Indiana. 

“I believe in my heart of hearts it will save lives across Indiana,” Hanify said.

For now, Mayor Hogsett and Indianapolis’ fire officials will have 25,000 of the drug-disposal kits for for five central Indiana fire departments. Indiana’s Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative Coalition gave the bags to departments for free.

“This is great news!” the mayor said. “Our city, like many others, is suffering under a crisis of opioid and heroin abuse. A problem exacerbating overdose deaths and violent crime.”

The 25,000 kits were paid for by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Research Association.

“You may be able to come to the fire stations to pick them up.” said Ernest Malone, chief of the Indianapolis Fire Department. “You may be able to come to the fire stations to pick them up. We’re certainly going to do some door-to-door canvassing, hand them out to people. We touch hundreds of thousands of people at our community events.”

According to an Indianapolis Fire Department spokesperson, you could pick up the kits are fire stations starting Dec. 1.

If you need substance abuse help right now, call 800-662-4357. That’s the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline. According to their website, the hotline is a free, confidential, 24/7 treatment referral and information service available in English and Spanish for individuals and families facing mental or substance use disorders, or both.

You can also call the Indiana Addiction Hotline at 800-662-4357. According to their website, Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration Addiction Hotline is available 24/7 for people seeking addiction treatment services in Indiana. The website also offers a live chat. The website said referrals are given to state-approved agencies and counselors with master’s degrees. The counselors can directly transfer calls to a treatment provider when that’s available. Additional information and referrals are provided on the website to community supporters including Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The Indiana Addiction Hotline also is available in English and Spanish.

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