Ohio has seen its unintentional drug poisonings rise by 366 percent from 2000 to 2012. Prescription drug overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death in our state, surpassing car accidents. In 2012 alone, Ohio saw 686 of its citizens die as a result of heroin-related overdoses. When I took office this January, I knew that this would have to be a priority to address while I serve you in the Ohio House.

During previous General Assemblies, my colleague Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) and others worked very hard on this issue. However, it is clear much more work needed to be done. Our first step in addressing the opiate epidemic this General Assembly was with House Bill 4, a bill that Representative Sprague and I sponsored.

House Bill 4 gives Ohioans greater access to naloxone, an overdose antidote that can counter the effects of an opioid overdose. This bill will relax restrictions on who can dispense this medication, allowing friends and family of the addicted, treatment center professionals and those in the medical field to purchase and distribute it more freely.

The destructive effects of opiate addiction take too many lives in our community and across the state. By keeping our addicted Ohioans alive, there is a much greater chance that we can introduce them to treatment and recovery. If they lose the battle with addiction, and their lives, then no more can be done to help them.

HB 4 passed in the Ohio House with broad, bipartisan support. Obviously, this is an issue that crosses party lines. Representative Sprague and I, along with my other colleagues in the House, know the great importance of this legislation. The bill now resides in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, where it will be evaluated further. I hope to see its quick passage so that we may begin the process of saving more lives in this state.

As with all state government related issues, I hope you will not hesitate to contact my office about this legislation. Addiction is a very personal issue, and we would love to hear your input.

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