It is no secret that Ohio is facing a substantial opioid problem, one that has led to a significant increase in drug overdose fatalities across our state. The addiction is not unique to single demographic or geographic area, but can instead be found impacting communities in all 88 counties ranging from townships and small rural villages, to suburbs. The reality is this affliction can impact anyone with only a doctor’s signature for a simple pain killer.


Recently, 60 Minutes aired a report highlighting the battle we are facing in Ohio titled “Heroin in the Heartland.” The report demonstrated several high school and college age students who unassumingly fell victim to the clutches of opioids. For one high school athlete, Tyler Campbell, all it took was a shoulder injury for which he was prescribed Vicodin. Eventually, his need for Vicodin transitioned to heroin, a much cheaper high, but one that proved fatal after an accidental overdose.


The Ohio General Assembly is working tirelessly to ensure the death toll from opioids does not continue to rise. As a state legislature we worked to pass House Bill 4, legislation that expands access to naloxone, a medication used to protect an individual experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose. The drug naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Having quicker and easier access to naloxone can help save hundreds of Ohioans from falling victim to accidental drug overdose.


Additionally, House Bill 64 contained a number of provisions including the allocation of $11 million over two years to the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program. Under this program, individuals who are addicted to prescription opiates or heroin are not only given addiction-treatment medication, but also undergo a thorough addiction evaluation. These individuals are also referred to a social worker and provided with various other resources to ensure the individual is given every opportunity to free themselves from addiction.


Finally, the Ohio House of Representatives has led the way on creating several other pieces of legislation in recent years that improve oversight on prescribing opioids to treat opiate addiction, places restrictions on “pill mills” distributing these powerful prescription drugs, and increases funds for community treatment centers. It has become clear that there is no silver bullet for this dilemma, and it will take continued work in the coming years to control it.


Due to the dependence of prescription pain killers, opioids have infiltrated our communities. We must fight back against this perilous and commonly fatal addiction, and my colleagues and I will continue to do so to ensure the opioids do not win.

 
 
 
  
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