State Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) this week applauded Governor John Kasich’s recent approval of legislation that updates standards and requirements for the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board. House Bill 230, sponsored by Rep. Sprague, will ensure that licensees of the Chemical Dependency Professionals Board are properly credentialed and are following the most up-to-date best practices amid Ohio’s drug epidemic.

In 2014, 2,482 Ohioans died from an unintentional drug overdose. This figure represents nearly an 18% increase from 2013. The problem that Ohioans face is widespread and affects every county, city, and town. As the state of Ohio continues to see growing overdose rates and other societal costs, elected officials are trying to find solutions. House Bill 230, introduced as part of a larger package of legislation, is one of many state policies addressing Ohio’s addiction epidemic. 

As part of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium, the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board sets standards and guidelines for the state’s alcohol and drug counselors, prevention specialists, and clinical supervisors. These credentialing requirements are regularly updated every five to seven years. House Bill 230 updates definitions and removes credentialing standards from the Ohio Revised Code, placing them in the Ohio Administrative Code. These changes will ensure that the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board remains in compliance with international licensing trends and standards.

“The passage of HB 230 opens prevention certification to a broader pool of professionals and allows the board to more readily stay abreast of changes in national credentialing standards, resulting in an increase in the growth and quality of the prevention and addiction treatment work force,” said Amanda Ferguson, Executive Director of the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board.

“These revisions to current law will allow the Chemical Dependency Professionals Board to adapt to frequent changes in international accreditation standards, which will ensure that Ohio’s treatment professionals continue to follow best practices and provide necessary care,” said Representative Sprague. “With Ohio’s drug epidemic, it is extremely important that we ensure licensees are following the most current best practices.”

Over the past several years, legislators have taken a multifaceted approach to the addiction issue. Legislation has been signed into law to prevent individuals from becoming addicted, prevent diversion of prescription medications, keep individuals alive, and bolster Ohio’s treatment system. In addition to revising licensing standards, the General Assembly and administration have made it a priority to implement other policies that improve Ohio’s treatment system. Steps have been taken to target resources more effectively, with the implementation of aggregate reporting of neonatal abstinence cases and an aggregate state-wide treatment services waiting list. Extensive reforms were enacted to improve and incorporate the continuum of care into every behavioral health board service district, so services can be available locally. The continuum includes clinical services, along with support services such as sober housing. In order to support this effort, tens of millions of dollars were provided in funding.

In addition, support and promotion of specialty drug courts continues to increase. These specialty dockets have been proven to get individuals the treatment they need, while keeping them out of the prison system. Individuals that end up in Ohio’s prison system are receiving increased access to treatment, which will lower recidivism and help offenders integrate back into society. Last, additional oversight was implemented for Ohio’s transition to Medicaid managed care. The oversight is meant to protect patients and providers from issues that can arise because of changes to the payment system.

House Bill 230 is another step being taken at the state level to combat the drug epidemic in Ohio.  As the need for addiction specialists increases, ensuring that those in the field are up to date regarding their job standards and guidelines is crucial.  

Governor Kasich signed the legislation into law on June 28th.

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