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Guest Column from State Representative Theresa Gavarone

Over the years, the Ohio House of Representatives has come to know the increased rates of opioid abuse as one of the most persistent and troubling issues affecting our state. In order to curtail drug addiction and its influence over Ohio families, we as state and community leaders must continue to take important steps toward preventing more of our loved ones from paying the price of this costly epidemic.

 

According to a report released by the Ohio Department of Health last week, Ohio experienced a 20.5 percent increase in drug overdose deaths from 2014 to 2015. In 2015 alone 3,050 people died of unintentional overdoses, the highest number on record for our state. The prescription opioid, Fentanyl, is more often associated with these fatal overdoses than any other prescription opioid or illegal drug such as heroin.

 

Provided that this growing problem is stemming from the use of prescription drugs, it is imperative that the Ohio House continues efforts to assist those who suffer from opioid dependence. Fortunately, numerous pieces of legislation have been proposed by the Ohio Legislature in order to counteract the drug epidemic, with several that have already gone into effect as Ohio law.

 

One such example is House Bill 4, which increases access to the drug naloxone, a key component in the fight against opioids. Naloxone is an overdose antidote that, if administered quick enough, can reverse the effects of a drug overdose, often saving the individual’s life. House Bill 4 permits physicians to administer the lifesaving drug without a prescription to individuals who have overdosed, and also allows pharmacists to furnish naloxone to opioid dependent patients, or their loved one.

 

House Bill 4 is similar to another piece of legislation that had already gone into effect that allows Ohio’s first responders to carry and administer naloxone to overdose victims. Due to the success that this bill achieved through saving lives, the Ohio House passed House Bill 4, which has given pharmacies in our area, such as CVS and Kroger, the ability to stock this lifesaving drug.

 

Despite the legislation created in order to tackle this issue, our work is not finished. It is my intention to see Wood County succeed in overcoming the challenges that have troubled our families and communities because of opioid abuse. Therefore, as your state representative, I will continue to support efforts that work to reduce such challenges and minimize the number of people who fall victim to addiction.

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