Over the past few years, the state Legislature and governor have been working to combat the growing opiate addiction problem in Ohio. The problem is not as widely known in that area but the addiction to opiates has become a major concern for all of Ohio’s 88 counties. In fact, it is now surpassing the numbers of deaths due to accidents, with more deaths coming from opiate addiction.
So, last summer the Ohio House organized a bipartisan study committee to analyze the, very serious and life threatening issue. The committee traveled all around the state and heard from Ohioans everywhere. This helped them come up with some really great ideas to begin addressing the problem. Of course the overall issue is not going to be solved by just passing a few bills but it can begin to help.
The primary focus, especially over the past couple months, has been to seek ways to keep dangerous, addictive substances out of the hands of young people. Just recently the House passed legislation geared towards educating Ohio children about the harmfulness of opiate addiction. The bill also would add instruction on prescription opioid abuse prevention int he curriculum of local school districts.
House Bill 367 was one of the several ideas that originated last summer during the House study committee hearings. The bill passed the house almost unanimously and now will consideration from the Senate. House Bill 367 is one of the approx 13 bills involving opioid addiction that have been introduced throughout this General Assembly. Of those, one, just one, House Bill 170, has been signed by the governor.
At the beginning of the year, Gov. Kasich revealed a new program called Start Talking. The message of this initiative is to simply meet young kids in their various places of life and talk to them about the dangers of drug. Young adutls who speak with a parent, teacher, coach, or any other mentor are 50% less likely to use drugs. Simply sharing can show them the reality of how drugs can destroy their lives. More info about the Start Talking initiative is available online.
Opioid addiction, of course, is not something that can be solved overnight. As legislators, we must continue to make eradicating this epidemic a top priority. Even myself as a writer, must continue to share the information from every state across the country about what is going on. Why? Because opioid and prescription drug addiction are on pace to cause 23 times the number of casualties than what was seen in the Vietnam War.
This should be a wake up call to anyone hasn’t woken up yet.