As a state representative concerned for the well-being of my fellow American citizens and constituents, I’ve watched the opioid epidemic assault America, wreak havoc in its communities, and challenge the great state of Ohio’s capacity to respond to this crisis. Indeed, the data on the opioid epidemic released by the Ohio Department of Health are daunting and facing this crisis has led many to despair.
The Ohio House, though, has worked to combat the opioid epidemic through enhanced treatment and prevention methods, revamping prescription drug laws, and targeting the pills mills that paved the road to addiction for many Ohioans.
Despite our efforts—the heart and hope that the House has given to fighting this crisis—there is still a lot of work to do: approximately eight Ohioans die each day due to unintentional drug overdose. From 2000 to 2015, the death rate due to unintentional drug poisonings increased 642 percent, largely due to the annually increasing rate in opioid-related overdoses. In 2016, more than 4,000 Ohioans died because of unintentional drug overdoses, a statistic up 32.8 percent from 2015.
As the uses of fentanyl and carfentanil become more common (fentanyl often being hundreds of times stronger than heroin, carfentanil being even stronger than that), we can only assume that 2017’s numbers of opioid-related overdoses increased. As the Ohio Department of Health calculates the opioid epidemic-related statistics from the past year, the House is not wasting time, and we continue to fight to reverse this upward trend.
Ohioans are facing more aggressive addictions and, because of fentanyl and carfentanil being mixed with other substances, a greater likelihood of overdosing. Ohio needs our help now. The solution to this serious challenge to public health is not a top-down Statehouse plan, but a comprehensive, community-driven approach concerning treatment, mental health, and the workforce.
At the Ohio House, we’ve built the HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education, and Safety) Agenda to empower our communities with more resources and new tools. To fight the opioid epidemic, we’re funding the groups fighting this crisis in Ohio’s communities, cracking down on drug trafficking, and expanding access to overdose antidotes. We’re also educating Ohioans on pain medication to prevent addiction, creating pathways to treatment for addiction, and building support structures for individuals affected by the opioid epidemic. We accomplished much of this with $180 million in the recent state budget devoted to four key areas: prevention, treatment, mental health, and workforce.
If you want to know more or need help, the ADAMH (Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health) Board of Franklin County can assist you. If you or someone you know is fighting addiction, please contact the board at (614) 224-1057 or find more information at adamhfranklin.org. Ohio will not give in to this crisis, we will fight it with heart and hope, and we will heal.