The disease of addiction has progressed from an unseen bacteria that subtly sickened society from within to a major scourge to humanity. Over the past several decades, more and more individuals are turning to substance abuse for a number of reasons; sometimes it’s to take treatment of painful conditions into their own hands or perhaps due to a curiosity one has about recreational intoxication. No matter the circumstances surrounding an individual’s development of alcohol or drug addiction, it’s become a prominent feature of culture, much to the consternation and concern of citizens, public officials, health care providers, politicians, and many, many others.
Like virtually every corner of the western world, the state of Ohio has been hit hard by the by the spike in addiction rates that have devastated the United States, especially when it comes to the recent heroin epidemic. With the advent of OxyContin in the 1990s, prescription opiates had become a household presence for most, resulting in many people having access to dangerous and highly addictive painkillers.
As the years passed with rates of painkiller addiction growing, there were a number of policy changes as well as efforts made by pharmaceutical companies to produce opiate painkillers that were resistant to abuse. Although these policy and formula changes were effective in curbing abuse of prescription pain medications, this left many individuals who were physically dependent on OxyContin or other opiates with little choice but to turn to a new drug: Heroin.
In Ohio as virtually everywhere else, an alarming number of people had become physically dependent on opiate medications with a growing portion of addicts either being already addicted to heroin or switching from painkillers to heroin, which is much cheaper, stronger, and more readily available than the painkillers that have recently become tamper-resistant and more difficult to abuse.
Moreover, an epidemiological report has indicated a disheartening increase in the frequency of heroin overdoses that are occurring in the state of Ohio, reporting more than five times the rate of overdose deaths as in the year 1980 and a 366 percent increase in heroin overdose between 2000 and 2012 with the trend expecting to hold. However, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has formulated a plan that he hopes will increase the number of addicts who are eligible for addiction treatment and, consequently, help to reduce rates of addiction, overdose, and drug-related deaths in the state of Ohio.
Ohio TREAT Act – The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment
In the summer of 2014, Senator Sherrod Brown for the state of Ohio directly responded to the state of the drug epidemic in Ohio by proposing the passing of a bill that would effectively give individuals suffering from addiction—especially to opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers—greater access to outpatient and replacement therapy treatments. That bill is the Ohio TREAT Act. The state—with its history of importance to addiction recovery as the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935—has long had a problem with the medicinal treatment of addiction to opioids.
In particular, physicians at outpatient treatment facilities with the ability to prescribe replacement medications have traditionally only been able to prescribe medications to 30 addicts in their first year of working at a facility as part of a contractual agreement. After the first year, physicians are able to prescribe replacement medications—such as methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone)—to 100 patients annually.
Nationwide, in 2012 it was estimated that more than 2.5 million individuals were either addicted to or abusing opioids and only 40 percent were receiving medication-assisted treatment. In the state of Ohio, there is a much larger demand for medicinal treatments for addiction with almost half a million opioid-related emergency room visits annually, which is far more than physicians limited to only 30 or 100 patients can handle.
While many want to eliminate the scourge of addiction from city streets, this cannot happen unless those who suffer from addiction can receive treatment. According to Brown’s Ohio TREAT Act, instead of 30 patients in the first year and 100 patients annually thereafter, physicians would be able to prescribe medications as part of an addiction treatment regimen to 100 patients in the first year and unlimited patients every year thereafter.
Physicians have openly lamented about the limitations that have existed regarding the number of patients to whom they can offer their services; it’s been suggested that even increasing their capacities by 30 individuals would have a major effect on communities throughout the state of Ohio, which is why virtually all physicians who offer addiction treatment services are behind Brown’s Ohio TREAT Act. By expanding the number of patients to whom each provider can prescribe, a much greater number of addicts can gain access to the treatments they need to overcome chemical dependency.
The Need for More Accessible Addiction Treatment
Brown has expressed regret with the current level of availability of addiction treatment services to those who need them. The unfortunate reality is that the number of people in need of treatment far outweighs the industry’s capacity to provide treatment, but there are also a number of policies in place that exacerbate those limitations. According to Brown, “We’ve got a problem when it’s easier for Americans to get heroin than it is for them to get help to break their addiction.”
The Ohio TREAT Act has been openly supported by the American Medical Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Society of Addiction Medicine, and a number of other recovery-focused organizations, which illustrates a growing awareness and efforts to rectify many of the shortcomings and injustices that prevent addicts from being able to overcome their addictions.
Explore Your Recovery Options Today
If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction to opioids or another danger substance and would like to learn more about recovery, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. We have an experienced staff of recovery specialists available, offering free assessments and consultations to help those in need from the addiction treatments that can deliver them to health, sobriety, and fulfillment. A new life begins with just a phone call to Drug Treatment Center Finder today at 855-619-8070.