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Addressing the addiction crisis in Indiana and across the nation requires many different and complementary resources and capabilities. Among these, the availability of robust, comprehensive, and commonly accessible data and information is essential to appropriately characterizing, addressing, and monitoring the crisis and the interventions designed to address it. While there are several examples of independent, limited, and disconnected data silos in existence, a common data resource to address needs does not currently exist and is sorely needed.



As part of IU’s Grand Challenges program, the Responding to the Addictions Crisis initiative aims to reduce deaths from addiction, ease the burden of drug addiction on Hoosier communities, and help to improve health and economic outcomes. A collaborative effort of IU’s seven campuses and in partnership with state officials, IU Health, Eskenazi Health, and others, this statewide project is one of the nation’s most comprehensive state-based responses to the opioid addiction crisis—and the largest led by a university. The Polis Center role in this effort helped address the creation, access to, and governance of a common data resource for the Indiana community to leverage in addressing this crisis.

Creating a Statewide Database for Indiana’s Addiction Problem

The Polis Center, working with the Regenstrief Institute and the IU School of Medicine, contributed to the IU Grand Challenge Addictions Crisis effort by assisting in the design and development of the Indiana Addictions Data Commons (IADC), a statewide database on opioid use to include social determinants. In the short term, the extensive healthcare data and linked non-healthcare data that exist will better characterize the nature and extent of the opioid crisis across Indiana and support the work of clinicians and investigators working on projects related to this plan. In the longer term, the aim is for this resource to become an essential and model ‘data commons’ to support the work of our entire community working to address this crisis for our state and our nation.

In addition, Polis is designing and developing the first-of-its-kind chemical surveillance system database to connect clinical information, overdose locations, chemical drug identification, and drug concentration information. The goal is to enable more effective drug abuse prevention strategies, and help the state craft better policies and allocate resources more effectively.

(Related resource: In 2017, the Polis Center researched retail access to tobacco products as an important consideration when discussing potential community action to address population health disparities. Studies show that tobacco outlet density and proximity are linked to tobacco use–particularly in poor areas. We used socioeconomic data culled from the SAVI community information system to examine the density and proximity of tobacco outlets relative to vulnerable communities in Marion County. Read our report, Unequal Access: Tobacco Retail in the  Indianapolis Metro Area.

 To learn more, contact Karen Comer.