Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States was battling another crisis: the opioid epidemic. As our country experienced COVID political dissension, intense climate change, and a renewed awareness of racial inequities and injustice, the opioid epidemic faded into the background. But Robin Newhouse, dean of the IU School of Nursing and lead investigator of IU’s Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge, says we must continue the fight against a disease that harms 20 million people in the U.S. and their loved ones. According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths increased almost 30 percent in 2020, which is the highest increase ever recorded in a 12-month period. But for those on the front lines caring for and treating people who use substances, as well as the people, families and loved ones battling substance use disorder, Newhouse says the high rate of overdose deaths is more than a number. It is more important today than ever before, she says, that policymakers, employers, universities, hospital systems and the community return attention to ways to support people in recovery, provide innovative treatment options, and create and implement preventive interventions and strategies to avoid substance use for children at risk. As part of IU’s Grand Challenge, IU has worked with more than 100 partners throughout the state to address educational and training opportunities, prevention and treatment options, policy and law, and the economic impact of the addictions crisis. IU researchers study and recommend effective policies and law at both the state and national level, work with people in long-term recovery to examine the use of medication-assisted treatment, study the economic impact substance use has on our country and the workforce, and provide programming for at-risk youth in local schools and in the juvenile justice system. But Newhouse says there is much more work to be done, and that it will take all of us, working together as a supportive community, to combat it. As National Recovery Month comes to a close, she says, we must remember those who have lost their lives to substance use and thank the clinicians, researchers, partners, those in recovery and their families for their commitment to making Indiana, and the country, a healthier place. In other news, a new survey led by researchers at IU’s Prevention Insights, part of IU’s School of Public Health in Bloomington, found that in 2021, 84 percent of Indiana adults reported participating in at least one gambling activity in the past year. The survey is the first look at Indiana adults’ behaviors around gambling, information that can be used to set priorities for treatment and awareness activities across the state. Researchers gathered information on the scope of gambling activities, the prevalence of problem-gambling behaviors and awareness of problem-gambling resources among adults in Indiana. Among other key findings, researchers found that lotteries were the most popular form of gambling among Hoosier adults, with 71.7 percent of respondents reporting playing any lottery. The survey also found that 46.2 percent reported visiting casinos to gamble, and 20.5 percent reported participating in sports gaming in the past year. The most common gambling activities that Hoosier adults engaged in were lotteries, scratch tickets, raffle tickets, card games and games of personal skill. Mary Lay, an IU research associate and program manager for the Indiana Problem Gambling Awareness Program, says the most statistically significant differences in overall gambling participation were found in relation to sports gaming, which was legalized in Indiana in 2019. Men were more likely to participate in any sports gaming than women, and younger adults, age 18 to 34, were more likely to participate than older adults. In terms of problem gambling among Indiana adults, the prevalence was less than 5 percent, with 4.1 percent of respondents having gambling disorders, 3.4 percent were pathological gamblers, and 2.5 percent reported severe problematic gambling. Lay says problem gambling affects about 3 percent of the adult population, yet that isn’t reflected in the number of people seeking treatment. These results can be used to provide opportunities for more advocacy and education around problem gambling, she says.