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Justice System Needs More Clarity On Addiction Treatments, Says Drug Abuse Symposium

By Jill Sheridan, IPB News | Published on in Crime, Government, Health, Law
Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush delivers the keynote speech at the annual Drug Abuse Symposium. (Jill Sheridan/IPB News)
Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush delivers the keynote speech at the annual Drug Abuse Symposium. (Jill Sheridan/IPB News)

In Indiana, the criminal justice system is the primary referral source for addiction treatment.  And that’s a problem, according to Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush.

Rush spoke at the state’s annual Drug Abuse Symposium in Indianapolis, now in its 10th year, hosted by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

“I think we’re really late to the game dealing with a model for the court systems on addiction,” says Rush.

This lack of structure has affected every part of the legal system including child welfare and eviction cases.

Rush serves on the National Judicial Opioid Task Force and works to create better systems to address substance abuse.  She says legal professionals need to be trained on everything from trauma to medication assisted treatment.

“If you’re going to be ordering services and treatment, you need – as a judge – to understand it,” Rush says.

She says the epidemic has shined a light on systemic gaps.

“This crisis causes us to meld the law and medicine together and where do we go to get the best information,” says Rush.

Rush says there are resources and funds for counties to set up systems to address the addiction crisis.

A new medical legal addiction guide will be finalized before the end of the year. There is also state funding for counties through justice partners addictions response training.

Contact Jill at jsheridan@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @JillASheridan.