Wood County Prevention Coalition

Uniting For A Drug-Free Community Since 2004

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Legislation would provide comprehensive addiction treatment, prevention

From: www.thenews-messenger.com

Craig Shoup, Reporter7:55 p.m. EST February 10, 2016

FREMONT - Battling the largest number of opiate-related deaths in Ohio history, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, revealed plans Wednesday to introduce comprehensive legislation providing crisis-to-recovery treatment for addicts and families both locally and statewide.

In a conference call with the media Wednesday, Brown announced his planned legislation called Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act — a plan to expand treatment, boost recovery options and provide lifelong support for recovery.

"The bill would provide funding for first responders and medical professionals and provide and make Naloxone more affordable to the communities that need it most. It would expand access to treatment we know works," Brown said.

Juni Johnson, director of Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, located in Chillicothe, said Brown's legislation would allow for flexibility when dealing with all stages of addiction.

"It helps us to address addiction on many fronts including prevention in schools, crisis services and evidence-based treatment," Johnson said. "There's a whole continuum of care and we need to employ all resources from prevention to medical-assisted therapy. There is not one system that is a fix-all. It needs to be flexible and I think this bill goes really far in doing that."

Johnson said evidence-based treatment, or treatments that have been proven to work, provide detailed outlines for helping addicts to recover. Unlike many traditional methods of treatment, Johnson said evidence-based strategies delve deeper into the real issues of drug addiction.

"Say you have a speaker come into the classroom and they give a gruesome account of their addiction and by age 24 they were in recovery and everything is great and what the kids hold onto is 'Gee, it's not that bad. They're 24 and fine so I'm going to keep doing what I am doing,'" Johnson said. "Evidenced-based is delivered over a longer period of time and follows a specific curriculum."

Brown said the best way to reduce the epidemic in Ohio is by providing education and promoting prevention before the problem starts, in addition to aiding those recovering from addiction.

"It's afflicting thousands," Brown said. "It shouldn't be easier for Ohioans to get their hands on opioids than to help treat their addiction."

Since becoming senator in 2007, Brown said he has held more than 200 round-table discussions and has met with families, doctors and health professionals. The best way to treat addiction, he said, is through treatment and education, which his legislation is designed to cover.

Overdose deaths from heroin and opioids across the state are on the rise as 2,110 people died from overdoses in 2013 and a state record 2,482 people died in 2014. Numbers for 2015 are not yet available.

The 18.3 percent increase in overall drug deaths from 2013 to 2014 contributed to Ohio being second in the nation to California in drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention.

The state has been aggressive in combating overdoses in recent years, from limiting the amount of dangerous prescriptions doctors can prescribe to introducing Naloxone, an injection drug that can be used to revive opiate overdose victims.

Sandusky County is among the counties where the epidemic has been growing. Naloxone use by Sandusky County EMS personnel increased from 33 doses administered in 2014 to 38 in 2015, according to Sandusky County EMS director Jeff Jackson.

Efforts to make Naloxone available to the public for emergency use was given a boost last week when CVS Health announced that all of its Ohio pharmacies will make Narcan — a brand name under which Naloxone is sold — available without prescriptions starting in late March. A package of two doses will cost between $40 and $50, according Erin Britt, director of corporate communications for CVS Health.

The CDC has reported that many opiate abuse cases begin when someone becomes addicted to pain medication that was prescribed after surgery. Ohio was one 16 states to receive CDC money to evaluate policies and guidelines for prescribing opioid pain killers.

Along with education, resources, and treatment, Brown's proposed bill will allow for loan forgiveness to those seeking careers in substance abuse disorders, something Johnson said could be a game-changer for making a difference in the opiate addiction battle.

Johnson said recruiting staff has been a struggle in Chillicothe.

"If they can get loans repaid or get paid better, this bill will be a really big help," she said.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is also working on legislation geared towards education and law enforcement to combat the drug epidemic.

Portman's proposal would include expanding the availability of Narcan to law-enforcement agencies and monitoring and tracking prescription drug programs.

Brown said Portman has worked hard on his bill and that he would likely vote for it.

"I'm hopeful as this (bill) works its way through the process that it could be combined with something more comprehensive that deals with law enforcement and treatment," Brown said.

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Wood County Prevention Coalition Meeting

Friday, May 13th, 8:30am

1867 Research Drive

Bowling Green, OH

Our second coalition meeting of 2016 is set to take place on Friday, May 13th, 2016 in the Wood County Educational Service Center in Bowling Green, OH at 8:30 AM.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

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About Us

Our Vision: Helping youth be drug-free, productive and responsible citizens.

Our Mission: We are a coalition of compassionate community members working together to coordinate high quality programs for the prevention of youth substance abuse in Wood County.