Editorial: Ohio’s opioid crisis is a local crisis

A recent editorial by the Toledo Blade:

The opioid crisis, which continues to hammer Ohio particularly hard, has always been a personal crisis and a community crisis.

It has affected thousands of Ohio families on a personal level and it has strained the resources of our community social service agencies and local governments. That’s why it is important that the state direct as much funding from legal settlements from opioid drugmakers as possible to the local level.

Attorney General Dave Yost recently announced the state has reached a settlement with three more drugmakers that is expected to bring $808 million to Ohio.

Of that, 55 percent will go to a foundation that will distribute the money to people affected by opioids and use it to fund programs that help them and prevent addiction. Another 30 percent of the settlement will go to local-level community recovery programs. And the final 15 percent will go to the state.

The local community investment is most important. The burden of this addiction epidemic has always hit hardest close to home. Police and fire departments have struggled with ever increasing numbers of calls for overdoses and other addiction-related issues. Children’s services agencies have been overwhelmed with more children in need of foster care when addicted parents can no longer care for their children. Detox and treatment facilities have struggled to keep up with demand for services.

This is not an issue that is likely to go away anytime soon.

In 2019, the last year for which complete data is available, Ohio had the second-highest drug overdose mortality rate in the country. Only West Virginia’s was worse.

That year 4,028 Ohioans died of unintentional drug overdoses, which was a 7 percent increase over 2018 deaths in the state.

Even more alarming, though, are the initial statistics for 2020, when authorities fear the coronavirus pandemic contributed to even worse overdose totals.

The attorney general’s Scientific Committee on Opioid Prevention and Education analyzed data from April, May, and June, 2020 and discovered Ohio’s death rate from opioid overdoses was 11.01 per 100,000 population. That is the highest overdose rate for the state in 10 years.

There is no question the demand for more resources to manage the addiction crisis and its rippling effects through our communities will continue for many years to come.

Ohio must make a priority of creating the programs and funding streams to manage this and then to continue to support those.

— Toledo Blade, Sept. 21