IWU student recognized for increasing awareness around heroin epidemic

Justin Phillips, a graduate student studying Addictions Counseling at Indiana Wesleyan University, recently received the Jefferson Award for her work in spreading awareness around the heroin epidemic and increasing access to naloxone— a medication used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose. Phillips’ drive to raise awareness about drug abuse stems from losing her 20-year-old son, Aaron, to a heroin overdose in 2013. 

“Justin brings the needed voice of a mother's resolve into the battle against addiction,” said Dr. Don Osborn, director of graduate addictions counseling at IWU. “She is an example of the power of a mother’s love in being a champion for untold others. Her loss and pain will now save lives, and give second chances in life to those suffering from addiction". 

The Jefferson Award is part of a National Award program conducted by each state to recognize outstanding public service. In Indiana, award recipients are chosen monthly by WRTV Channel 6. According to the news channel’s website, a Jefferson Award recipient performs outstanding personal acts, positively impacts his or her community, and works as a local volunteer or paid professional who goes well above his or her job description. Winners will be recognized at a reception on April 21 in Indianapolis.

“The Jefferson Award is such an honor because it represents public service, which is where I have spent my whole life,” said Phillips. “[This award] validates the mission I have to raise awareness of the opioid and heroin epidemic and allows it to be part of the national conversation.” 

Phillips is also the recipient of the 2016 Richard M. Fairbanks Circle of Hope Award. Recipients are recognized for their contributions related to drug and alcohol research, education or treatment. Phillips will be honored at the Fairbanks Circle of Hope Dinner on April 21 in Indianapolis.

For more information on Phillips’ work, visit www.overdose-lifeline.org


Indiana Wesleyan University
4201 S. Washington St.
Marion, IN 46953