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Guest Column: Preventing Opioid Addiction

September 4, 2015
Republican Newsroom

As our students and families begin the school year, I hope to make everyone aware of some changes to Ohio’s health curriculum. Since 2007, the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio has been drug overdose. According to the most recent finalized statistics, during 2013, 2,110 individuals died from an accidental drug overdose. More than 70% of these individuals were using either prescription opioids or heroin, and the rate of overdose deaths closely correlates with the amount of dispensed prescription opioid doses. From 2003 to 2013, within the State of Ohio, the amount of prescription opioids being dispensed increased more than ten-fold. Specifically, in 2013, there were over 828 million dispensed doses.

During the last General Assembly, I sponsored House Bill 367. This piece of legislation contained language that requires health curriculums across the state to include instruction on the dangers of prescription opioid abuse and the links between prescription opioids and heroin. Among other topics, health classes are required to educate students about nutrition, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and personal safety. Near the conclusion of the 130th General Assembly, after being passed with bi-partisan support, House Bill 367 was signed into law. Beginning this year, health classes will be putting more of a focus on the dangers of opioids.

Many individuals do not realize the dangers with misusing and abusing prescription medication, due to the fact that it comes from a medical professional. After individuals develop an addiction to prescription opioids, it is common for them to progress to using heroin. The increased prescription rates, along with heroin’s price difference and similar chemical properties, make it a popular drug to use in later phases of an opioid addiction.

Following requirements in House Bill 367, the Governor’s Opiate Action Team have presented recommendations for the new curriculum requirements, and they have been posted on the Ohio Department of Education’s website. For additional information, please visit the following web address:

Incorporating this type of prevention curriculum into health classes may be the only exposure to opioid education and abuse prevention that some students will ever receive. In order to recover from injuries or surgery, many students may have been or will be exposed to these types of prescription drugs. Although House Bill 367 will help prevent some individuals from becoming addicted, members of the Senate and House were very cognizant that prevention is just one piece of the overall puzzle to solve the epidemic.

In addition to House Bill 367, we passed other pieces of addiction-related legislation. This year, we have continued our fight against addiction. House Bill 4 was recently signed into law, which increases access to a substance that can reverse an overdose, and House Bill 64, the recently passed budget, contained many policy items that will have a positive impact on the problem. Furthermore, my colleagues and I are currently sponsoring additional pieces of legislation to combat Ohio’s addiction epidemic. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (614) 466-3819.