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Editorial: Ohio losing addiction war

State budget response sadly inadequate

Record-Courier Editorial Board Published: June 18, 2017 4:00 AM

The tentacles of heroin and opiate addiction are slithering deeper into our communities and destroying lives every week.

Fewer and fewer of us can say we don't personally know of someone battling some level of drug addiction in their lives, whether it's a neighbor, child of an acquaintance or in your own home.

Our courts are busier than ever. The number of kids in foster care is spiraling higher, with a Portage County case worker describing her work protecting kids as "a battleground."

It's a crisis that knows no boundaries, even reaching into the home of Ohio's lieutenant governor, who recently disclosed her two sons are struggling to overcome addiction. Our state is even suing the manufacturers of opioids, claiming the state is owed massive damages for being flooded with addictive painkillers.

There's no debate that we're in a state of crisis with a scarcity of resources for short- and long-term solutions in Portage County and elsewhere.

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There are not enough treatment options or anti-drug educational efforts.

What we do know is Ohio's current proposed state budget for the next two years fails to adequately address our state's need for an all-out war on addiction.

Yes, the Ohio Senate added $6 million more to the battle in its revised budget, increasing the total to $170.6 million, including $60 million for child protective services, and programs to support children in drug-affected families, maintaining $20 million for the expansion of treatment housing, $6 million in new detox facilities, $5 million to help counties establish drug abuse response teams, $5 million to train teachers to identify addicted students, and $2 million for criminal and forensic labs, plus help for overwhelmed county coroners.

That's all appreciated but inadequate. The state's two-year spending plan acts as if our state is not facing a dire emergency.

More than 4,200 of our citizens died in 2016 from accidental overdoses -- including 46 in Portage County -- and it appears 2017 could be even worse.

The challenge here is some of us believe drug addicts are getting what they deserve for making a poor choice.

While there's some credence to that position, the reality is this addiction epidemic is spiraling out of control and impacting every single Ohioan whether we realize it or not.

It doesn't really matter how someone started down this road when they commit a crime, overwhelm caseworkers protecting kids or can't hold a job.

The societal impact of damaged children alone is overwhelming, with many of these children likely needing a lifetime of help.

Sadly, we're all losing right now.

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Anomy Jun 19, 2017 1:00 PM

Once again the comments section shows us that people believe this problem can be handled by going after the supply line, the producers and distributers.

Sorry Kids, as long as there are buyers there will be producers and sellers.
Blaming the supply is dodging responsibility and allows the problem to continue.
Face it, a ton of heroin (sic) can be dumped on a street corner and if there were no consumers that's where it would be found for ever.

Also, if DeWine is successful in his sewage of the drug companies wouldn't that change product liability law and make manufacturers liable for the use of their products?
If a Ruger is used in a murder then wouldn't Ruger then be subject to a law suit?

dowhatsright Jun 18, 2017 9:42 AM

Well heck yes we are. We have gone from uaing pushing these drug dealers and users to rewarding them. Any one that sells drugs should get 10 years in prison for each sale. We now reward them with a taxpayer’s vacation to a rehab joint. This does nothing but instills into these people that if they get caught nothing will happen to them so why not make the money by selling the drugs. Then when you get caught tell the judges how sorry you are and ask for help. They will feel sorry for you and give you a vacation at some spa.and call it rehab. This is especially true if you are a female. Just check the court cases.