Ohio’s most pressing and urgent issue is the drug abuse and addiction epidemic that is ravaging our families and communities. Because the crisis threatens the health of our entire state and has the potential to prevent future growth, the Ohio House has taken great strides towards facing its many challenges with a multifaceted approach.
In the House-passed version of the state operating budget, we included provisions that invest $170.6 million in new money to fight drug addiction through coordinated care. Our focus is on four key areas: prevention, treatment, mental health, and workforce development, tackling the complete cycle of addiction and lifting individuals up and out of drug dependence.
The investment reflects the priorities and goals outlined in the HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education, and Safety) Agenda, a major part of our policy platform, the Buckeye Pathway. Only by targeting each particular component of the addiction cycle in varied and distinctive ways can we hope to put a conclusive end to this crisis.
By putting a greater effort towards prevention, we can get in front of the epidemic and stop its influence on younger generations. From there, we must get those who are already struggling with addiction the proper treatment. With an expansion of treatment and detox options, the addicted can get sober with the help of trained professionals. However, the state needs to have resources available to those who have been recently treated to ensure they do not fall victim to the grasps of addiction again. Once these individuals are back up on their feet, a strong workforce with accessible training and certification options open many doors for job opportunities, allowing them to create stable lives and contribute to society.
Ohio’s opioid epidemic is not easily overcome — it requires not only a comprehensive approach, but also the coordination of all interested parties, from state and local government to community leaders, law enforcement and concerned parents. I’m proud of the steps my fellow members and I took in the House version of the state budget to combat this issue, and I was encouraged to see the Senate build upon this effort by securing additional funding.
Ohio has struggled for too long against this scourge, and it is time we each put our all into finding solutions to end it. I have faith in the power of our communities, and I believe that by working together with the proper resources, we can bring healing and recovery to those who need it. For more information on building a drug-free future, please view StartTalking.Ohio.gov.
Steve Huffman currently is serving his second term as state representative for the 80th Ohio House District, which covers Miami County and parts of Darke County. He also is the former Miami County Coroner.