In recent years, just about everyone has become aware of the opioid overdose epidemic across the country. Sadly, many have learned about it because it has taken the life of someone they knew and loved. In 2015, Ohio led the nation in opioid-related overdose deaths, and it has impacted communities large and small.
There is no single solution to the problem, and it will not be conquered overnight. However, I believe the Ohio House of Representatives has taken a major step in the right direction to helping our state overcome this terrible scourge.
Last month, the House put forth a proposal that would allocate more than $170 million to combat drug addiction. It was part of a larger plan named HOPES, which stands for “Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education and Safety,” which places additional emphasis on helping the addicted and their families find the help they need.
Of the $170 million, the largest investment is directed to treatment and detox options, as well as drug courts, transitional housing and services for the children of opioid addicts. In order for the addicted to return to living healthy, productive lives, they must first receive treatment and then not return to the drugs that caused so much pain to them and their families.
Whereas treating the addicted is important, preventing individuals from getting addicted in the first place will be a critical factor in the long run. In the House plan, more than $12 million would be allocated to better use technology to help people receive information and other resources to become educated about the dangers of addiction. The younger that we can teach children to say no to drugs, the better off they will be when faced with such pressures in the future. And technology—social media, videos and other educational materials—can help us reach young people in a format that they are used to.
Finally, other areas of the plan focus on mental health and workforce development, which go hand in hand when it comes to getting people off of drugs and back into the workforce so they can once again be productive members of society. There are avenues that we can take that can make it easier for individuals to become certified for various skills and jobs to make adjusting to the workforce safer and easier.
I was proud to vote for these proposals in the budget bill that recently cleared the Ohio House. I believe that these measures, coupled with growing community involvement—churches, businesses, charities—can make a lasting difference and help Ohio climb out from under this horrific scourge that have claimed far too many lives.

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