DIGGING DEEPER: A closer look at death and addiction in Indiana

An op-ed written by Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, and published by the Indy Star is more attention to the topic mental health and addiction.
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 8:03 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - An op-ed written by Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, and published by the Indy Star is more attention to the topic mental health and addiction. Crouch says in the article that in Indiana, nearly 2,800 people have died from overdosing. That is a record number of deaths for the second consecutive year.

Those stories of families dealing with mental health and addiction are becoming all too familiar to Hoosiers, she says. She believes the pandemic has played a major role in the uptick.

Crouch also shared a personal story about her on family’s struggle. Her mother suffered from depression, her sister died by suicide and her brother is battling an alcohol addition. Crouch says we need to start talking about this issues more openly.

“For a long time I didn’t talk about my family experience,” she says. “Not because I was embarrassed or ashamed, but because those memories can be very painful. I thought it was time to share my story and by doing so it would allow others, or gives them permission, to share their own. That’s how we start down this road toward recovery.”

Andrea Schroeder knows all too well the pain of addiction. Her 27-year-old daughter Miriah battled both mental health and addiction. Schroeder says she used drugs to self medicate. She died of an overdose in 2016. Ever since, Schroeder has made it her job to advocate for families dealing with this crisis.

“I realized after she passed away this could happen to anybody if this could happen to her,” she says.

Her daughter’s death lit a spark in her, she says. She knew wanted to be voice for those who have died and for those families who suffer in silence. She is glad to see Crouch address the topic. She believes it will help break the stigma.

“I think there’s a lot of shame,” she says. As a parent you wonder what did I do wrong?”

The conversations continue to bring the issues to light and lawmakers are also working with communities across the state to address the issue. Crouch says many counties have received federal funding in an effort to help curb the problem.

“They were able to distribute what turned out to be $55 million in grants to help fill in those holes and those needs where they exist,” Crouch says.

“I think a lot of things are being done now as we speak,” says Schroeder. “But I think more has to be done to raise awareness. To let everyone know that not one family is immune from this. I read in [Crouch’s article] where she said if one person in your family is struggling with this it affects the entire family.”

Although progress is being made Schoeder says she will not stop advocating for those battling the diseases of mental health and addiction.