Bill to curb heroin epidemic heads to the House

By Andi TenBarge

INDIANAPOLIS —A bill that would allow emergency medical service providers to hold drug users in the emergency room after receiving a dose of Narcan is on its way to the Indiana House.

“I don’t want to hold someone against their will, but I also don’t want to see someone die,” Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville, said.

Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville, explains Senate Bill 499 and how it uses the involuntary commitment law as an avenue for drug users to seek out treatment. Photo by Andi TenBarge,

If enacted, Senate Bill 499 would establish a three-year pilot program in Allen, Marion and Wayne counties to help curb the state’s heroin epidemic. The program would allow emergency medical service providers to hold patients who have been administered Narcan for at least 48 hours.

Raatz, the bill’s author, said the holding period will help bring drug users to the point where they can detox and make a decision to seek help.

Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, represents one of the counties that would be affected by the proposed pilot program. However, Brown said she was concerned with the idea of holding a user in the emergency room after they’ve been given a dose of the overdose reversal drug.

“ERs are triage centers,” Brown said. “They are not holding pens.”

The bill passed the Senate 43-7 and now heads to the House.

Andi TenBarge is a reporter for, a news site powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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