Local Authorities And Medical Experts Discuss Drug Abuse Problem At Town Hall Meeting

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Prescription drug abuse has now replaced car accidents as the leading cause of unintended death in Ohio.    

According to the Ohio Department of Health, opiate prescriptions have increased by 900 percent in the last decade.

The Athens 317 board, an organization that deals with drug addiction in the area, hosted a town hall meeting in Nelsonville Monday night to discuss the problem.

The meeting was part of a statewide campaign called "Don't Get Me Started," bringing together residents, local alcohol and drug addiction treatment experts, law enforcement, medical professionals, legislators and others to create awareness and discuss solutions to drug abuse and addiction.

Amish Patel, lead physician at O'Blenness Hospital, said the drug abuse problem is directly related to on treatment clinics.

"I think a lot of it just has to do with what the patient treatments are in various clinics.  I think that's really the main issue," said Patel.  “When you look at what clinical medicine is, what resources are available to that particular patient? And if there are not that many options available, then nine times out of ten, they're going to end up getting more medication than the average person."

State Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) said there's bipartisan support to stop pill mills in Ohio, but he said that funding is a problem.

"We are also seeing local communities and local governments struggle with lack of funding and we really got to take a close look at how we're prioritizing these funds," said Gentile.

The Athens Opiate Task Force says that for every $1 spent on drug abuse programs, Ohio taxpayers will save $11.