Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly announced that Justin Philips of Indianapolis will be recognized as one of the White House’s “Champions of Change.” Donnelly nominated Justin Phillips in December last year in recognition of her continued work in the fight against Indiana’s prescription opioid abuse and heroin epidemics. She will be honored at the White House on Friday, April 29.
Donnelly said, “Justin Phillips exemplifies the qualities of a Champion of Change, and this recognition from the White House is well deserved. Justin’s efforts to address the opioid abuse and heroin epidemics, in memory of her son Aaron, are making a difference for families in central Indiana and across the state. It’s going to take all of us—elected officials, doctors, public health experts, law enforcement, and smart, committed Hoosiers like Justin—to effectively combat these epidemics.”
Phillips said, “I am extremely honored and grateful to be recognized as a White House Champion of Change. Senator Donnelly has been addressing this opioid epidemic for several years, and it is a privilege to work on this with him and the other elected officials who realize the importance of changing our approach to the disease of addiction. This recognition gives a voice to so many people like me, a mom who lost her precious son. I look forward to keeping this attention at the forefront until the dying stops.”
Since losing her son, Aaron Sims, 20, to a heroin overdose in 2013, Justin has become a leading voice for families facing addiction in Indiana. In 2014, Justin founded the non-profit Overdose Lifeline to help purchase naloxone, an opioid reversal drug, for first-responders in the Indianapolis area. She also worked with Indiana legislators on a bill known as Aaron’s Law to expand access to naloxone prescriptions for others beyond first responders. After months of advocacy, Aaron’s Law was enacted in April 2015.
Through her work with Overdose Lifeline, Justin has also focused on providing educational resources and support events for families and individuals impacted by opioid addiction. Overdose Lifeline has developed an educational program to inform high school students about the risks of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use, and has also hosted several free training and distribution events to provide naloxone to first responders and the general public in central Indiana.
Donnelly has been working for more than two years to address the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemics in Indiana and across the country. Last month, Donnelly helped the Senate pass bipartisan legislation designed to help address opioid abuse. This legislation includes provisions adopted from and similar to bipartisan legislation that Donnelly reintroduced last year focused on developing best prescribing practices and raising public awareness, as well as a program to expand access to life-saving naloxone.