Seeking Solutions to Ohio’s Opiate Crisis
Bottle after bottle of pills were collected at a recent drug take-back event at the Rhodes State Office Tower in Columbus. More than 104 pounds of unused or expired over-the-counter and prescription medication were taken out of medicine cabinets and disposed of properly.
Andrea Boxill, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team, explained the importance of holding the drug collection.
“Over 80 percent of people who become addicted to heroin, start with a pill. While heroin is something that has to be developed, cut and illegally brought up, pills aren’t. Pills are prescribed by doctors and for many of those individuals they start by going in the medicine cabinets of their friends or family members,” Boxill said.
Drug overdose deaths continue to be a major health concern in Ohio. New figures from the Ohio Department of Health show 2,110 deaths in 2013 were from unintentional drug overdoses, and opiates, prescription or heroin, accounted for nearly three-quarters of the overdoses that year.
“We’ve known for some time that overdoses for 2013 would be higher than overdoses for 2012, but, when you see the numbers on paper, it is very shocking and distressing,” Ohio Supreme Court Specialized Dockets Program Manager Orman Hall said of the figures.
Hall managed treatment programs for more than 25 years, and now manages the Supreme Court program – working with drug courts that assist defendants with treatment, instead of prison.
Last June, judges from 83 Ohio counties and their community partners attended the Ohio Judicial Symposium on Opiate Addiction to discuss promising judicial practices and options for treatment, including medication-assisted treatment. This year, family court officials and their community partners will be invited for a symposium.
“The emphasis for this year’s opiate summit is working on policy development for parents who are struggling with opiate addiction and have a very real possibility of losing their children because of their inability to deal with their addiction problems,” Hall said.
The symposium will be held in Columbus on June 23.