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Multimillion-dollar campaign to reduce stigma of drug addiction expands across Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A multimillion-dollar campaign is launching statewide to help reduce the stigma surrounding addiction.

The Family and Social Services Administration created the FSSA Know the Facts campaign. It initially targeted five counties — Tippecanoe, Allen, Monroe, Vigo and Marion — where new opioid treatment programs were being opened in 2017. Now, the campaign is statewide that targets all substance use disorders.

Know the Facts has received $8 million federal dollars to fund the 21st Century Cures Grant, State Opioid Response 1, and State Opioid Response 2.

The 21st Century Cures Grant has created a 26% increase in beds at behavioral health hospitals and facilities, added 65 peers in emergency rooms and hospitals to connect people who overdose with treatment options and follow up. The grant has funded training and education to doctors, social workers and community health workers. It has also launched mobile addiction teams.

The Know the Facts Campaign has mainly invested in advertising through social media, billboards and recovery stories to reduce stigma.

“Stigma often creates issues when we’re trying to put treatment into communities. It causes shame for individuals who are trying to seek help and are suffering with addiction and substance use disorder. It’s really important that we understand how we can go about changing those attitudes and so this campaign is really focused on exposing all Hoosiers to individuals who have found treatment and who have entered into recovery,” said the executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement, Douglas Huntsinger.

Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed Huntsinger to the job.

“There’s a lot of work involved in trying to attract the change in attitudes. Our goal is to create a baseline of understanding in the community and then to see that change in a community whether that’s from surveys or community outreach events,” mentioned Huntsinger.

Stacey from Terre Haute is one of many individuals who is nine years in recovering from drug use and has shared her story with the campaign.

“You know that radio commercial that comes on all the time and I see the advertising on TV and I always stop to listen to it because even though I’ve heard it a thousand times it’s just those stories of hope are really engaging for people I believe.”

The Know the Facts Campaign also aims to increase engagement and interest through its website and social media platforms.