Opiate Crisis in Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch reported in September that the city experienced 21 heroin overdoses in a 24 hour period. While local law enforcement officials are warning residents of the “bad batch” of the drug, this only speaks to the epidemic that the city of Columbus and entire state of Ohio is experiencing. This comes to no surprise when reviewing the data provided by the Columbus Public Heath Department.

Data has shown in a quarterly report released in March of 2016 that 5.8% of the drug overdoses in Franklin County were heroin related. During that quarter there were 700 doses of Naloxone administered. Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, is drug that is commonly administered to help block the affects of opioids, especially in overdoses. The data in the quarterly reports are rather alarming when considering that initiative that not only the state of Ohio is taking to help prevent and stop these overdoses and deaths. Recently, Columbus Public Health and community partners have teamed up to launch the Harm Reduction Program.

The partnership is not only working to save lives but to also provide the residents of Columbus and the entire state of Ohio a comprehensive plan of recovery, all while making every attempt to stop the spread of disease, caused through intravenous use of drugs, through education, counseling, and giving people access to clean syringes and naloxone. The health department has high hopes for this program due to the recent support shown by Governor John Kasich, Senator Rob Portman and a number of other politicians. It seems to be a bi-partisan effort to address the growing heroin and opiate problem being faced at this time. This month, legislation was passed in the state of Ohio to help address these issues with a comprehensive plan to provide recovery and state funded treatment, prevention and education initiatives aimed at lowering the number of drug abuses and overdoses. “Today’s strong bipartisan vote is a victory for American families who are struggling with the disease of addiction,” Portman said.

“We know that the abuse of heroin and prescription drugs is tearing apart families and devastating our communities. This bill will help more Americans put their lives back together and achieve their God-given potential.” While the political support for this bill and related state programs are showing great hope, the current statistics released by the Franklin Country Health Department are showing the drug overdose rates are only climbing. This coming year, The Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health is teaming up with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services to host the eighth annual Opiate Conference in June.

The two day conference will bring together behavioral health professionals for educational purposes related to the opiate epidemic in Ohio. Ohio’s 2017 Opiate Conference will have focus on treatment, prevention, recovery assistance and numerous other topics. While there is much to be said and done about the growing epidemic and the various suggested solutions, it can be said there has never been more people who are coming together and more awareness concerning the problem that the people of Columbus are facing.