In recent years, the state of Ohio has struggled with drug-overdose deaths. according to federal statistics, Ohio’s drug-overdose deaths rose 39% from mid-2016 to mid-2017. This was the third-largest increase among all of the U.S. states. This sobering fact has stretched local and state budgets. For example, in Ohio the rate of drug dependence, abuse or overdose among those on Medicaid jumped 262 % during this same time frame. This opioid crisis has motivated authorities on the national level to allocate more resources to fight this public health problem.

As of September 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  has awarded more than $1 billion in grants to states, communities and organizations that are involved in the opioid crisis. Earlier, in 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act provided $1 billion in new funding to combat the opioid crisis. Much of this funding was made available to states through a program called the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants. These grants provide states and territories with a combined total of $970 million for the next two years, starting in 2017.

As of June 2018, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was accepting applications for $930 million in State Opioid Response Grants. These funds are earmarked for distribution to states and territories in support of their ongoing efforts to provide prevention, treatment and recovery support services to individuals with opioid use disorder. The goal of these State Opioid Response Grants is to address the opioid crisis by increasing access to evidence-based medication-assisted treatment, reducing unmet treatment need and reducing opioid-related overdose deaths.

From these grants, Ohio will receive $71.5 million over the next two years to combat the opioid epidemic as part of an ongoing federal grant program designed to increase drug treatment access and reduce opioid-related deaths. The vast majority of the $71.5 million is slated to help increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Currently, there are three FDA-approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder. A smaller portion of the funding will enable 55 community health centers, academic institutions and rural organizations in Ohio. This should expand access in Ohio for integrated substance use disorder and mental health services.

However, there are critics who argue that the Federal Government is not doing enough. Congress has committed more money to combat the current opioid epidemic. An epidemic that has generated hundreds of thousands of drug overdose deaths since the late 1990s. But while experts and advocates welcome the funding, there are a few reasons for caution. Critics advocate that a fundamental change in how healthcare systems work as well as how public health efforts are funded. By doing this, healthcare providers and systems could mitigate the risk of opioid overdose and addiction at every level and ensure patients have readily available care options. I addition, there is always the concern about new opioid-like drugs creating public health concerns.

In other words, treat these patients the same as other patients who are suffering and need quality care (diabetes, heart disease, kidney dialysis, etc.). Some health care experts argue that Congress needs to start viewing the opioid epidemic in a different light and on a bigger scale. Once this happens, a more sustainable funding pattern would likely occur as well as a more consistent level of care across the nation.

For additional information or questions about opioid addiction and treatment options, contact Columbus Addiction Center. Call us at: (614) 532 – 1782 or (614) 532 – 7299.

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