Editorial: Drug deaths show more sober-living beds needed

Drug addiction continues to plague Bartholomew County — a crisis that shows no sign of ebbing, and one that cuts short far too many lives with devastating consequences for families, friends and our community.

It’s easy to feel a sense of helplessness and despair about this situation. We must resist such impulses if we are to address this epidemic head-on. Recovery, as anyone who has experienced and battled addiction can tell you, is a lifelong commitment lived one day at a time.

Many of us have felt the agony of losing a loved one to addiction. We wonder what might have been, if only they had gotten help at a crucial hour.

Many of us also have the good fortune to know people who have experienced a seemingly miraculous deliverance from the brink. We should celebrate their recovery of an example of the never-ending possibility for each of us to overcome and to live our best lives.

How heartbreaking it is, then, to learn that so many people who need that help — who are coming forward and asking for it — are turned away. We are failing to meet the immediate needs of people who are begging at a crucial hour for an intervention to help them get well.

As The Republic’s Andy East reported in the Jan. 14 edition of The Republic, the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress and other community agencies and organizations cannot keep up with the demand to serve those trying to break the grip of addiction. The organizations simply lack the number of sober-living beds. The more than 100 beds in facilities opened since 2020 isn’t nearly enough, said Sherri Jewett, executive director of Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress.

“Just from ASAP alone, we probably have 40 applications a month from people who are looking for sober living that we are not able to help,” Jewett told East. Other service organizations trying to help people recover from addiction are likewise overwhelmed.

More than 60 people died from drug overdoses in Bartholomew County in the past two years. We simply must do more to meet the deadly scourge of drug addiction, especially at the crucial hour when people are seeking help. As a community, at the very least, we should commit to giving those who are asking for help an opportunity to begin the long road to recovery.

How do we make this happen? The first step is to admit to ourselves that we have a problem.

Realizing this, we should resolve to commit, as a community, that any person who seeks help to break an addiction will get help. At the very least, that person ought to have a safe and sober reprieve from the triggers of addiction they are seeking to escape.

The numbers starkly tell us we have work to do. But if our community makes this a mission, our collective character, our ability to meet problems with creative and resourceful solutions, and our desire to want every member of our community to have the opportunity to live their best lives will win out. Fewer people will die of drug overdoses.

ASAP and other organizations are working hard to increase the number of sober living beds in the community. We hope that happens.

Let’s do all everything we can to see that it does, so that when someone you may know asks for help, we can help them.