Once again, Ohio is at the forefront in finding new ways to curb the opiate epidemic. I have written about Ohio and their governor John Kasich before. His office has put forth a lot of effort into protecting their citizens from opiate abuse. Opiates have affected their state drastically and speaking with many people from Ohio, many believe it has to do with the high unemployment rate and lack of jobs in the state.
When the state legislature resumes session this upcoming fall, lawmakers will consider nine new bills aimed at curbing the epidemic of opiate abuse. It may seems like an overkill, having nine pieces of legislation introduced at one time on the same topic, but Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says action is needed “because we're losing the battle” against opiates. “They are trying to throw all the darts they can to stop it,” Jones said of the legislation. “Will it stop it? Some of it will; but it won’t stop until you stop people from buying illegal drugs.”
America is in the middle of an opioid epidemic that has never been experienced before. More than 16,600 people a year die from overdoses caused by opioids like Methadone, Oxycodone, Morphine and Hydrocodone. That equates to about 45 Americans a day that die from these dangerous medications. Even more alarming is that for every death associated with opioids, another 30 people are are admitted to emergency rooms for ailments directly related to opioids such as addiction or overdose.
These alarming numbers have many professionals scrambling to find a solution. Why are so many people being affected by these medications? Opiates are extremely dangerous to a large amount of the public due to their addictive and deadly qualities. When the pain they are prescribed for subsides, these medications work drastically different from when pain is present. When you have pain and take opiates, they block the pain and allow you to function normally. When pain is not present and the medication is taken, it provides a euphoric feeling sometimes consisting of increased energy and overall well-being. When a person enjoys the euphoria that opioids cause, it can become very easy to get addicted.
What doesn't help the issue is that Hydrocodone is the most prescribed medication in the United States. Yes, a prescription painkiller is number one. When you take that into account, it is no surprise that addiction and overdose deaths are the highest they have ever been. In fact prescriptions for opioids have soared over 300% during the last decade. Besides the obvious problems with the black market, the legal market is pushing these dangerous medications way too often and in instances that pain medications were once not needed.
Ohio will continue to be one of the leading states against the opiate epidemic. Below are the nine pieces of legislature that will be brought to the floor in the fall.
House Bill 314: Prevents opioids from being prescribed to minors without their parents’ consent; signed by Gov. Kasich on June 16, also part of House Bill 485 that passed the House
House Bill 332: Creates higher standards of care requirements for physicians treating chronic, non-cancer pain; pending in the House Health & Aging Committee
House Bill 341: Requires all prescribers to check the OARRS system before giving a prescription for an opioid; signed by Gov. Kasich on June 16, also part of House Bill 485 that passed the House
House Bill 359: Requires a consumer fact sheet to be given to patients receiving an opioid prescription; pending in the House Health & Aging Committee
House Bill 363: Creates a 911 Good Samaritan law that exempts someone from prosecution for minor possession if they attempt to save the life of someone who is overdosing; the bill has had three hearings in the House Judiciary Committee
House Bill 366: Requires hospice organizations to appoint one person to keep track of medications used, do pill counts, lock up unused medications and dispose of medication after it is no longer needed; signed by Gov. Kasich on June 17, also part of House Bill 485 that passed the House
House Bill 367: Requires prescription pill addiction and the linkage to heroin be taught as part of the health class curriculum in our schools; passed the House on March 12, assigned to the Senate Education Committee
House Bill 369: Requires each county to have the full spectrum of integrated opioid addiction recovery treatment and recovery housing. It also requires insurance and Medicaid to pay for opioid recovery treatment, and provides funding for specialty drug courts; part of House Bill 483 and signed by Gov. Kasich on June 16
House Bill 378: Requires drug recovery treatment to accompany prescriptions for medication assisted treatment drugs; pending in the House Health & Aging Committee