The opiate epidemic is a scourge that destroys individuals, families, and communities. As state legislators, we cannot stand by while so many in our state continue to suffer from such a deadly crisis. That is why we included a significant provision in the final budget bill that strengthens the fight against opioid addiction in Ohio.

The HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education and Safety) Agenda is a package of investments that sets aside $180 million in new money specifically to combat drug addiction. It supports four key areas in need of funding to fight back against opioid addiction: prevention, treatment, mental health, and workforce development. Instead of focusing on just one of these areas, we believe a multifaceted and coordinated approach is most effective in making headway toward health and healing.

Regarding prevention efforts, we allocated funds to connect people struggling with addiction to the right resources. Thanks to innovative technology, a mobile app can greatly aid in providing necessary information when individuals do not know where to turn.

Treatment options are crucial for current addicts and their loved ones. To that end, we allocated $30 million to Child Protective Services and to kinship care, $32 million to treatment and detox programs, and $14 million to county ADAMHS boards. Direct funding for drug court programs was also expanded by $6 million.

With the recognition that mental health plays a huge role in addiction, we made sure to invest in stabilization centers, a drug court pilot program, and probation improvement and incentive grants. Finally, we strive to support recovering addicts as they reenter the workforce, through funding that assists individuals in receiving adequate certification and training.

The Ohio House has taken steps toward addressing the opiate epidemic, and the HOPES Agenda reflects that commitment. We need the support of many different players in order to halt the ongoing crisis and reverse its impact on our communities. I am dedicated to combatting the drug addiction and overdose epidemic in any way I can, and welcome you to contact my office with any questions or concerns regarding the issue of opioid addiction and its impacts.

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