Painkiller abuse battle continues



Staff Writer
Ohio’s lawmakers have asked Gov. John Kasich to sign several bills meant to address the abuse of painkillers, said State Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay.
Sprague gave an update on the progress Friday.
The state’s new budget, which Kasich is expected to sign soon, includes millions of dollars earmarked to help with substance abuse recovery and prevention.
In all, Sprague said there is $47.5 million in the new state budget designed to address mental health and addiction issues.
About $24 million will be used to “fill the gaps in care,” and $10 million will be spend to increase access to residential treatment, he said.
Another $14 million will be spent to establish “drug courts.” Sentencing through these courts will most likely include mandatory participation in recovery programs. Sprague said research shows that ordering an addict into treatment can be as successful as voluntary treatment, with intensive probation.
Another $6.5 million will be spent on prevention.
Sprague also sponsored a bill that will make May 1 an awareness day for drug abuse in Ohio.
The state also plans to establish a network of uniform recovery homes and a waiting list for those seeking treatment, but who are unable to access it.
There are also rule changes coming, Sprague said.
Doctors will be required to notify parents whenever an opiate is being prescribed to a child for pain. Doctors will also be required to check a statewide network that tracks drugs prescribed to patients.
The network has been available for some time, but there has been no requirement for doctors to routinely check the system. The rule should help stop the problem of “doctor shopping,” or patients going from one doctor to the next collecting prescriptions for painkillers, Sprague said.
Sprague also introduce a bill that would require hospice providers to destroy a patient’s painkillers upon death.
“Part of the problem is that there is this perception that these are prescription pills and they are safe, until people get hooked on the pills. The user then often graduates to heroin.”
Hospitals will now be required to report babies that are born addicted to heroin to the state, and families will be allowed to possess the drug “Narcan,” which is the antidote to an heroin overdose.
Grant: 419-427-8412
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