Sherrod Brown Announces New Legislation to Combat Ohio Drug Overdose Deaths

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Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced new legislation Tuesday that would help fight the number of drug overdose deaths in Ohio by increasing access to treatment for those struggling with opiate addictions.

During a press conference at the Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Franklin County, the Senator addressed the record high number of 1,914 Ohioans who died of drug overdose in 2012.

In an effort to fight this opiate abuse, Sen. Brown voiced his support for The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act). This legislation would change U.S.. law to enable more health care providers to treat larger numbers of patients struggling with addiction.

“We’ve got a problem when it’s easier for Ohioans to get heroin than it is to get treatment,” Brown said. “Fundamentally, that’s the issue. It’s easier to get heroin in this state; it’s easier to get OxyContin in this state than it is to get treatment… it’s just the law and we certainly have to do better on that.”

Joining Brown to urge passage of this legislation was ADAMH Board of Franklin County CEO David Royer and Dr. Mark Piacentini, a Marion County physician who treats people with opiate and prescription drug dependence and addiction in central Ohio.

Eric Carrico, a Franklin County resident who struggled with prescription drug and heroin use for 10 years, also spoke at the press conference. After going through a recovery program at Maryhaven in Columbus, Carrico spoke to the importance of treatment.  

“If I hadn’t been in Maryhaven and stuff, I probably would have been dead or in jail,” Carrico said.

Currently, federal restrictions limit the number of patients provider’s can treat for addiction. In 2012, approximately 2.5 million Americans abused or were dependent on opioids. Of those 2.5 million, less than 40 percent received medication-assisted therapy for their condition.

The TREAT Act would increase the number of patients that providers are allowed to treat in an outpatient setting. In addition, qualified nurse practitioners and physician assistants would be allowed to treat addicted patients for the first time.