Combatting the Opioid Epidemic
Every single day 14 Ohioans overdose on opioids, and this number is rising - Ohio’s opioid death toll saw a 33% increase between 2015 and 2016 alone. For too long, Rep. Jim Jordan has been willfully negligent of the problem, being averse to using any government funds to address the issue. Janet supports federal legislation that would combat the epidemic head on by providing funding to support community organizing, public education campaigns, treatment programs, and increased law enforcement and judicial programs designed to heal addicts and protect society.
To beat a problem this large, we must all work together. One of Janet’s first step as representative would be to convene a committee of our district’s community leaders. This group would include school district officials, health care workers, judges, and members of law enforcement. This task force will allow for streamlined communication between all of those who are fighting the common enemy of opioid deaths. Janet will take input from this task force and utilize it to argue, on the floor of Congress, for action. It will ensure that our district is approaching this daunting task from all angles and finding a solution that works for everyone.
Any solution to the opioid crisis must also focus on public education. For this reason, Janet supports the Attorney General’s plan to implement a K-12 drug prevention education program in all schools and run a statewide drug prevention media campaign. It is imperative to reach children, both in and out of school, while they are young to show them the dangers of abusing opioids. By setting the mindset early to avoid misuse of opioid drugs, we can save lives.
Janet believes that our role does not stop with preventative measures. There needs to be steps taken to help those already affected by addiction. One way Janet would accomplish this is by making Naloxone readily available. Naloxone is the medicine used to save the lives of those who overdosed on opioids. All of our first responders should have Naloxone and be trained to administer it. Pharmacists should also have the discretion to give Naloxone to those who have been trained by drug therapy groups and are caregivers to those fighting addiction. Janet would also make strategic partnerships with clean syringe programs that already exist in Ohio. This would help reduce the rate of HIV - one that has been rising in recent years.
Lastly, integrating back into society after an opioid addiction is difficult and can cause people to fall back into the deadly cycle of drug abuse. Janet supports a program to incentivize business owners to hire recovering addicts and give them a way to provide for themselves.
Any successful drug prevention program needs the help of law enforcement. Janet would work to connect local law enforcement to Ohio’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and strengthen their lines of communication. Through this, local law enforcement will be able to track illicit drugs with greater certainty and stop the influx of illegal opioids into our community. Janet also supports the construction of drug courts. These would be similar to criminal courts, but work to focus on reducing the chance of relapse in addiction and recidivism from crime. It would seek to funnel non-violent drug offenders into substance abuse programs as opposed to jail. These drug court have proved effect and even have saved costs ranging from $3,000 to $13,000 per client.