COLUMBUS - 

In recent years, many Ohioans have been forced to deal with the troubling realization that drug addiction has become rampant throughout our state. Whether through a personal struggle or that of a loved one, this disease has become all too common. As clear as the increasing addiction has become, one thing has become equally as clear: we must fight back.


According to the Ohio Department of Health, in 2014 alone 2,482 people died of accidental overdoses—the highest number on record for our state. In the face of such stark numbers, it becomes obvious that we must act to support those who are struggling with the depths of addiction, and prevent others from choosing that same path filled with suffering.


During my first year in the Ohio House of Representatives I have been working hard to address this epidemic. The first bill that I introduced after being selected to represent the 43rd House District was House Bill 4. This legislation allows physicians to administer a lifesaving drug called naloxone without a prescription to individuals who have overdosed on opioids. House Bill 4, which passed unanimously and went into effect in July, expanded a previous law from 2014 that also increased the availability of naloxone, however HB 4 eliminated the requirement for a prescriber to be present, making the process much easier and faster. As a result of this law, emergency personnel have been able to administer the naloxone over 16,000 times in 2014, potentially saving thousands of lives.


In addition to the opioid addiction, Ohio’s youngest generation has also been exposed to an increase in over-the-counter drug abuse, including cough syrups containing dextromethorphan, or DXM. As a juvenile defense lawyer, I have seen the devastating impact that these common medications, such as Robitussin, can have when our youth mix it with beer or simply consume an entire bottle at once. This practice has become known as “robotripping,” and the side effects cause hallucinations, difficulty breathing and irregular heartbeat, all of which can prove fatal.


To address this issue, and protect our unassuming youth, I introduced HB 197 which prohibits the sale of products containing DXM to individuals under the age of 18. Currently, major retailers such as local grocery stores require the purchaser to show identification, however this is not the case with convenience or gas station stores. House Bill 197 closes this loop hole to ensure our youth do not overdose on this drug that they do not fully understand the danger of.


Although we have already accomplished a tremendous amount toward reducing the death toll of drug addiction, we must keep fighting. I will continue to work hard toward reducing the prevalence of drug addiction so our community can begin to thrive as a drug free environment.


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