Over the past several years, the state of Ohio has been at war, battling against the scourge that is drug abuse and addiction. We’re all aware—heroin, opioids, and other illegal drugs have a detrimental impact on our families and communities. In some way, we are all connected to someone who has been personally affected by this issue. At the state level, we have a moral obligation to enact policies that promote the public health of our state, an objective the Ohio House has been striving towards.
This past December, at the end of the 131st General Assembly, the legislature passed Senate Bill 319, which has since been signed into law by the Governor. The bill includes a variety of policies related to the opioid epidemic, from tightening the registration process of pharmacy technicians to increasing the availability of treatment, including methadone and naloxone.
As the original author of House Bill 325, which was included in Senate Bill 319, I was grateful to see it signed by the Governor and enacted in law. Also known as “Maiden’s Law,” the provisions of this bill prioritize treatment for pregnant women struggling with addiction. The impetus for the legislation was to ultimately encourage recovery by keeping a mother and her child together and to strengthen the family unit.
Health care professionals who care for pregnant women are required to encourage them to seek drug and addiction treatment services. It is important that our physicians and doctors, as experts on personal health and well-being, open the conversation with their patients about drug treatment programs. Such a conversation might be the only avenue many women have towards finding treatment services. Additionally, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services are required to give priority to treating addicted pregnant women.
Senate Bill 319 included a multitude of other provisions, but the primary goal of the legislation was to prioritize and ensure the treatment of pregnant women struggling with addiction. By making this issue of the utmost significance, the state and our communities have a better strategy to get in front of the drug epidemic and protect our future generations from being born addicted. In order to be successful against this plague, our families must be united and strong.