Data released by the Ohio Department of Health on the opioid epidemic in 2016 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.
Many of these efforts seem to be working—the National Safety Council recently announced that Ohio is one of 13 states marked as “improving” in regards to the epidemic. While this news is encouraging, 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 — drugs even stronger than heroin — become more common, it is likely that 2017’s numbers of opioid-related overdoses will have increased as well. 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 trend.
Ohioans are facing more aggressive addictions and, because fentanyl and carfentanil is 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.
To be certain, our state would fail in the face of this issue without the hard work and dedication of the workers on the frontlines. Emergency room doctors, law enforcement officers, social workers, and more work each and every day to help struggling Ohioans and their families overcome this devastating obstacle and get healthy again. This past week, the state recognized those workers with “Bringing Help, Bringing Hope. Thank You” week, a period when communities across the state showed appreciation for these individuals.
If we are to turn the tide of addiction, we must come together, and that starts with all those who work directly to provide people with addiction and their families with treatment and resources. For that, I thank each of you.