In recent years, the battle against opioid addiction has been ongoing throughout Ohio and the nation.
The tragic effects of drug addiction and the need to prevent it, cannot be stressed enough. Prescription and illicit drug abuse has torn many families apart and resulted in the deaths of far too many Ohioans.
The Ohio Department of Heath reports that in 2014 alone 2,482 people died of accidental overdoses--the highest number on record for our state.
For those who have personally experienced this tragedy, the number ought to be astounding and unacceptable. Imagine for a moment the grief that you, your families, and your friends have felt because of an accidental overdose multiplied by this number and spread across the entire state. We must act to prevent such grief and to restore the lives of those who have fallen into addiction.
My colleagues and I in the Ohio House of Representatives have been hard at work finding solutions to save more lives and to stem the tide of the drug epidemic. We unanimously passed House Bill 4 this year which allows physicians to administer a life saving drug called naloxone without a prescription to individuals who have overdosed on opioids.
This law expanded a previous law from 2014, House Bill 170, which that also increased the availability of naloxone. As a result of HB 170, EMS personnel were able to administer the naloxone over 16,000 times in 2014, potentially saving thousands of lives.
Preventing the deaths of those who have already overdosed is only the first step in solving our drug problem.
We must also work to treat those who are recovering from the disease of addiction. Innovative new programs administered by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, such as the Maternal Opiate Medical Support program and the Addiction Treatment Pilot Program, ensure that our state government is working to help those suffering from drug addiction. Continuing to provide support to those who are recovering is a crucial step in reducing the number of individuals who fall victim to addiction.
Finally, we must also prevent more Ohioans from giving in to the temptation of an opioid dependent life. That is why I co-sponsored legislation in 2014 that requires all school districts to include instruction on prescription opioid abuse in their health curriculum.
By educating our youth on the dangers of drug abuse we can defeat addiction before it begins. Additionally, the Ohio House has passed legislation that requires informed consent from a minor's parent prior to obtaining a prescription for an opioid.
This is another safeguard that will help protect and educate Ohioans about the distinct threat opioid pain medication can pose.
Defeating the drug epidemic in Ohio is no easy task, but the Ohio Legislature is making great strides to help those in need and decrease the number of deaths caused by accidental opioid overdoses.
(Rep. Landis may be reached by calling 614-466-8035 or by e-mailing Rep98@ohiohouse.gov.)