The state of Ohio is no different than the other states in the U.S when it comes to drug abuse. They too are fighting a giant battle against the opiate epidemic plaguing the country. Ohio isn't sitting back and watching it's citizens overdose and die without putting up a fight to stop it. I have written about the work of Governor John Kasich in past articles. He has taken a serious stand against the tidal wave of opiate addiction in his state and he keeps his fight going.
Governor Kasich put together the House Prescription Drug Addiction and Healthcare Reform Legislatie Study Committee. This committee voted recently on a bill authorizing county needle exchange programs, something that most politicians of the state never would have ever dreamed of doing just four months prior. After they heard testimonies of how abuse of prescription painkillers such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone ultimately lead to an addiction to heroin, they felt it was time to implement such a program.
“Initially, when you begin to abuse prescription drugs, that is a choice. It’s a terrible choice that leads to a horrible, devastating problem,” said state Rep. Robert Sprague (R., Findlay), chairman of the House Prescription Drug Addiction and Healthcare Reform Legislative Study Committee.
“But once you are in the throes of your addiction, it’s nearly impossible to help yourself,” he said. “We’ve learned that treatment works. I think it would be safe to say that had we not been on this journey over the last four weeks, I, for one, would have been very skeptical of such an exchange program.”
The House voted 72-23 across party lines to authorize county health departments to set up the clean syringe exchange programs. This is a vital program to help combat Hepatitis C, HIV, and other blood-borne infections. When an addict comes in to exchange their syringes, they will also be given information on how to seek treatment. This also lets the addict know where to go when they are ultimately ready to get clean.
Ohio isn't stopping with the clean syringe exchange program, they have a few changes they are bringing up for a House vote which I feel will be extremely beneficial to both the addicts and the people of Ohio.
Their other Opiate Task Force recommendations are:
- Requiring prescription painkillers to be prescribed in 10-day increments rather than 30.
- Requiring pharmacies to demand photo identification when someone picks up prescription painkillers.
- Requiring pharmacies to check with the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System for signs a patient has been “doctor shopping” or using other means to access opiate painkillers.
- Require all health departments to have the drug naloxone on hand to instantly reverse an opiate overdose.
It seems like Ohio is taking the right steps to help lead the fight against opiate addiction, and hopefully more states will soon follow.