Guest Column: Defeating The Drug Overdose Epidemic
State Representative Wes Retherford
January 25, 2016
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Drug addiction is a vicious cycle that takes a toll on not only the friends and families of the addicted, but local communities as well. In recent years, the amount of overdoses has quickly escalated and become a serious health issue that cannot be ignored.

In 2014, over 2,400 individuals died of unintentional drug overdoses, which is a 17.6 percent increase from the previous year. The primary culprit for this drastic increase, according to the Ohio Department of Health, is the opioid fentanyl. A single dose of an opioid such as fentanyl is all it takes to lead an individual down the path of addiction, which is why action is needed before opioid addictions become the new normal.

At the Ohio House of Representatives, we have been hard at work crafting legislation to end this devastating epidemic. Drug addiction has caused unneeded pain in our Butler County community, and one solution that the Ohio House proposed was House Bill 4. This legislation, which was passed unanimously and has already gone into effect, will increase the availability of the drug naloxone. Naloxone is a key component in the fight against opioids because the medication is able to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in unprecedented time. By allowing more access to this drug, we are saving lives and providing an out for those suffering from opioid overdose effects.

Additionally, the Ohio House also passed House Bill 64, which gives $11 million, over the next two years, to the Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) program. This program uses medical treatment and an addiction evaluation to help individuals battling addiction get their life back. The MAT program also helps the victim to get in touch with a social worker, as well as providing them with an abundance of resources to live independently of opioids. This program has a proven track record and I know it will impact our community in a positive way, especially with much needed funding.

I believe HB 4 and HB 64 will put Ohio on the right track to success and provide the best support to those struggling with this epidemic. We have already seen positive results from legislation aimed at tackling this issue, and I am hopeful that the two most recent legislative changes will continue to help individuals avoid falling victim to opioids. Breaking the addiction cycle is the key to solving this issue in Ohio, which is why I will continue to support efforts to defeat opioid addiction in the 51st House District.

As always, I welcome any feedback you may have on the opioid epidemic, or any other issue facing Ohio. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (614) 644-6721 or


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