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State museum exhibit puts opioid crisis on full display

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A new exhibit at the Indiana State Museum offers a stark look at the opioid crisis in Indiana while still maintaining a sense of hope and control.

“FIX: Heartbreak and Hope Inside Our Opioid Crisis” opens Feb. 1 and will be at the state museum through Feb. 7, 2021.

Cathy Ferree, president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, said at an unveiling event Jan. 31 that she’s been asked many times why the museum would want to curate such an exhibit.

“How can we not explore this topic?” she said after rattling off statistics about the opioid crisis in Indiana.

The opioid overdose death rate in Indiana was 17.2 per 100,000 people in 2017, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A 2018 study in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice found 53% of opioid deaths in Indianapolis occur within just 5% of the city. That area is concentrated on the near east side and extends down to the near south side.

• Related — The opioid crisis: Indianapolis struggles to stop cycle of use and overdoses

Those who walk through the museum’s exhibit will find plenty of graphs, charts and other information about how opioids affect and eventually take over the brain.

There are also personal testimonies, with one wall of the exhibit featuring photos of people around Indiana — many of them are from Indianapolis — who struggled with addiction and are on the road to recovery.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said he gets regular briefings about the opioid crisis and still learned new information from touring the exhibit.

“You will not be able to go through this exhibit without getting chills or tearing up,” he said at the event.

Next Level Recovery, a state-level initiative to respond to drug and addiction issues, includes partnerships with other agencies and organizations, as well as wrap-around supports such as housing.

Holcomb said Indiana is still just getting started in its opioid recovery but added collaborations such as the museum’s new exhibit represent a commitment to “rush to the problem” and “not spill our resources.”

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

An exhibit at the Indiana State Museum — “FIX: Heartbreak and Hope Inside Our Opioid Crisis” — features photos of people around Indiana who struggled with addiction and are on the road to recovery. (Photo/Tyler Fenwick)

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