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Ohio's fight against opioid abuse shows early signs of success

By Join Together Staff

Ohio, a state hit particularly hard by opioid abuse, is beginning to show early signs of success in fighting the problem, The Columbus Dispatch reports. But many problems remain.

Among the many signs of a turnaround is a new substance abuse center in Portsmouth, Ohio. The newspaper describes other successes, including the closing of eight of nine pain clinics that prescribed millions of doses of opioids in one Ohio county. A new state law gives the state's Medical Board more power to regulate "pill mills." And a new spirit of cooperation is allowing federal, state and local agencies to work together on prescription drug abuse.

But, there are still ample signs that prescription drug abuse remains a major problem in the state. In Scioto County, in the south central part of the state, 10 percent of babies born so far this year have been addicted to drugs, compared with 7 percent in 2010. Many people who were addicted to prescription drugs are now starting to use heroin, and there is concern that people formerly selling prescription opioids in Ohio are moving to Kentucky and West Virginia.

Orman Hall, Director of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, told the newspaper his state is working with officials in Kentucky and West Virginia to share pharmacy records, to detect when people are trying to acquire opioids from multiple sources.

In April, Governor John Kasich announced $36 million in new drug treatment and work readiness funds. The funds are designed to help people addicted to prescription drugs get treatment so they can go back to work. The governor also announced the creation of Opiate Task Forces in 23 Ohio counties designed to provide education and prevention to end the use of opiates as a drug of abuse.