Monroe County will soon have a commission dedicated to advising elected officials on opioid-related issues.
County commissioner Amanda Barge said last month’s summit on the opioid epidemic, which drew about 600 people, was just the start. In an effort to keep the conversation going, she joined her colleagues in approving the formation of an opioid commission on Wednesday.
The 13-member commission will organize community conversations throughout the year, including next year’s opioid summit in Bloomington. The commission will gather information, work with local groups in identifying concerns and solutions and advise the county on opioid-related issues. The commission will also present a public report of its activities and findings to the county commissioners at least once a year.
According to the ordinance, the commission will include nine citizen members, a county commissioner, a county council member, a representative from the city and a Monroe County Health Department representative. The county commissioners will appoint all members.
Barge described the opioid commission as one of the next steps needed to promote community awareness of the issue and work toward solutions. She said the commission will have representatives from all areas of the community, from experts to those who overcame addiction. Barge said she especially encourages those who have lived through an addiction to consider joining the commission.
“I don’t think you can talk about this issue without people who lived the experience at the table,” Barge said.
Interested residents are invited to complete the boards and commissions application available on the county’s website at http://www.co.monroe.in.us/tsd/Government/Commissioners/MonroeCountyBoardsandCommissions.aspx.
Combating opioid addiction is not unique to Monroe County.
Earlier this year, Gov. Eric Holcomb outlined his plan to fight opioid addiction throughout the state. Barge said local officials are using the governor’s opioid plan as a reference point as they assess the county’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to combating opioid abuse. Additionally, Barge said the county has already taken some steps to fight opioid abuse.