Families across Ohio continue to suffer from the effects of drug addiction. Opioid addiction leaves a painful mark on many of our citizens and touches the entire state.  Many of our friends, neighbors and loved ones here in Richland County have experienced the reality of this epidemic which continues to grow every day.

Drug overdose deaths in Ohio have increased in recent years. In 2013, 2,110 people died of a drug overdose; that number increased to 2,482 in 2014.  The Ohio Department of Health asserts that a lethal opiate called fentanyl is the cause of this increase in unintentional drug overdose fatalities. These facts are a terrible reality for many people in our state, and, therefore, we must work tirelessly to raise awareness and stop this epidemic.

To combat this issue, I have been working with other members in the Ohio House of Representatives to find the best possible solution.  House Bill 4 was a strong step in the right direction in breaking the cycle of drug overdoses.  This legislation makes naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, more accessible which will help prevent unintentional overdose fatalities in the future.  We passed this legislation last year.

In addition, House Bill 64, the state operating budget, allocated $11 million to the Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program which provides individuals fighting addiction with the medical treatment necessary to beat their dependence.  MAT offers other resources such as access to social workers, routine medical and addiction evaluations, and ongoing support throughout the entire treatment program. 

Fighting addiction is a challenge, and we, as legislators, want to ensure that no one is fighting this battle alone; House Bill 4 and House Bill 64 provide addicted individuals with a lifeline.  I am encouraged by these efforts, but our work is far from done.  We will continue to learn about this issue and continue to raise awareness in order to stay on the forefront of combating its effects.

Although drug addiction is a constant and growing battle, here at the Ohio House of Representatives, we will remain steadfast in our efforts to fight for those who need help.

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