What did we do in the opiate epidemic?

May 02, 2017

Those who daily respond to the opiate epidemic talk about “opiate fatigue.” The crisis arrived so quickly. In 2011, the state reported zero deaths from fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. Four years later, the toll climbed to nearly 1,200, and it still is rising.

In Summit County, overdose deaths from heroin and other opioids tracked going back a decade around 50 or 60 each year. The expectation is, when the counting is completed for 2016, the number will reach 300.

No wonder so many with the job of addressing the epidemic, whether in children services or treatment programs, emergency rooms or the medical examiner’s office, feel overwhelmed, even discouraged. They want to see progress, the numbers turn, recovering lives.

Which gets to the significance of the state budget plan unveiled by House Republicans last week. The plan calls for devoting $170 million during the next biennium to the epidemic. It reflects the comprehensive approach advocated by the many stakeholders in cities and counties who have the knowledge and expertise.

Resources would go into such things as residential treatment facilities, regional detox centers andtransitional housing. Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health boards would receive additional funds to cope with mounting expenses.

Does the sum meet the expanse and depth of the problem? Probably not. Yet it is the kind of commitment necessary, and it has the makings of relief from “opiate fatigue,” the funding, if it survives the budget process, signaling that the state has the back of local governments and organizations, that it is “all hands on deck.” What should reassure lawmakers is the response in Summit County, the Opiate Task Force at the lead. The effort here reinforces the worth of their proposed investment. If the job was catch-up at first, now many elements are gaining shape. ...Read the full article here.