Whether you or your family has been personally affected by it or not, the majority of Ohioans realize that our state is undergoing a crisis in the form of an opioid epidemic. While it isn’t a disease you can “catch” or that is caused by some kind of genetic abnormality, addiction is a mental health illness that involves the compulsive use of a substance that negatively affects one’s ability to make healthy decisions, resulting in what can seem like a never-ending cycle of abuse.

The state has been hard at work to put an end to this cycle. Frankly, Ohioans are tired of the impact and consequences the opioid epidemic has had on their families and communities. As your state representative, who has heard countless stories of accidental overdoses and relationships ending while in search of a solution to the issue, I’ve become concerned about the damage the epidemic has caused our state. However, I know that through combined efforts from all interested parties, we can come together to end this scourge.

Our first steps toward a solution is to save lives and ensure that those who are addicted find rehabilitative care. We have increased access to naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose and gives users a second chance at a life free of addiction. We also passed the “Good Samaritan Law,” which provides immunity from arrest for a minor drug possession to individuals that seek medical assistance when another is experiencing a drug overdose. The law also connects those who call for help in such an emergency to an addiction treatment provider.

The second part of the solution is to prevent our youth from becoming a component of the addiction cycle. The epidemic will never end if people continue to abuse addictive, unhealthy, and deadly substances. We have worked on various education initiatives like “Start Talking!” to open up the conversation with our children about the negative consequences of abusing drugs. Through honest and straight-forward channels of communication, we can educate our future and stop the epidemic in its tracks.

I am truly proud of the work that the state has done in an effort to curb Ohio’s opioid epidemic. I believe the funding, programs, and access to care that the legislature and administration have facilitated has made positive changes and are big steps toward an all-encompassing solution to this issue. There is still work to be done, however, and I call upon individuals, communities, and the government to continue to work together for the betterment of Ohio.

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