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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Stranded and in need of life saving support – imagine wanting to get addiction help, but simply not having a ride to get there. That’s one of the biggest challenges Hoosiers with addiction face. A new program is hoping to change that.

Indiana 211 is now a green light to vital care. That’s after they’ve noticed an alarming trend.

“As of today, we’ve completed a total of about 520 rides,” said Project Manager Seth Pennington.

Thousands of substance calls each year show people don’t have a ride to get to treatment.

“Most of them have said I would simply miss the appointment,” added Pennington.

With Indiana 211 now up and working, they say that’s not acceptable. Starting now, people can call 211. The person on the other line will connect them to a ride-sharing driver with Lyft, who will pick them up for their substance disorder appointment for free. They don’t even have to have a smart phone. Indiana 211 will take care of it for you.

Indiana 211 is able to provide this service thanks to a grant through the Department of Mental Health and Addictions with the state of Indiana. It’s a $40,000 grant and goes through the end of June of 2020. However, Pennington says eventually more money will be needed, since drivers aren’t just staying in Central Indiana.

“We’ve completed rides from Columbus, Indiana to Indianapolis,” said Pennington, “rides from Evansville, Indiana to Vincennes; rides from Lafayette, Indiana to Anderson, Indiana.”

Dianna Huddleston with Aspire Indiana says the need for free rides is critical.

“We’re serving almost 10,000 people, active patients we’re seeing every month,” said Huddleston. “They have the mental health or addiction issues, but they’re also dealing with employment issues and housing issues, so it’s very difficult.”

Aspire Indiana provides support to people with addictions, housing assistance, family services and more.

“I know we have consumers in both our Carmel and Noblesville office using it to get to group, to get to their individual treatment appointments and to even get to some of the community resources where they are getting treatment through the recovery community,” said Huddleston.

A free ride means more than just transportation. It’s independence.

“It gives people hope. That they can really, actually complete their treatment,” said Huddleston. “Now I’ve taken away one more barrier.”

Pennington added, “We had an individual who lived in Anderson, Indiana and knew there was a treatment facility they would qualify for in Lafayette. So, that individual had been waiting for almost a month and wasn’t able to get there. When this program went live, they were then able to get connected to treatment and we’re able to get admitted and they’re successfully in the program now.”

At this time, Indiana 211 can’t give rides to Medicaid or HIP patients.

Receipts are checked to make sure the program is used appropriately. So far, there haven’t been any issues. If someone were to take advantage of the free ride service, that individual would be removed from the service.