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With Overdoses on the Rise, Brown Outlines Efforts to Fight Addiction from Prevention to Recovery in Columbus Today

March 28, 2016 - 12:51 PM

From the Office of Senator Brown

COLUMBUS – With drug overdose deaths on the rise in Ohio, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited Columbus to discuss new legislation that would help address the opioid addiction crisis from prevention to recovery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than any other year on record. In Ohio alone, drug overdose deaths increased from 2,110 in 2013 to 2,482 in 2014.

“The only way we will stop the drug addiction epidemic is by combatting it at every level – from prevention to treatment to recovery,” Brown said. “Addiction isn’t an individual problem or a character flaw – it’s a chronic disease that, when left untreated, places a massive burden on our health care system, our families, and communities. Far too many Franklin County families know that all too well.

“That’s why I’ve introduced the Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act – a comprehensive solution to address this multifaceted problem,” Brown continued. “It should not be easier for Ohioans to get their hands on opioids than it is for them to get help to treat their addiction.”

During a news conference at the John Maloney Center, Brown was joined by Charleta Tavares, CEO of PrimaryOne Health, and Dr. Brian Stroh, Assistant Medical Director at Netcare Access, who discussed how Brown’s legislation will help them better serve residents and communities in Franklin County. Earlier this month, Brown announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded PrimaryOne Health, which operates the Maloney Center, $325,000 in federal funding to expand medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other substance abuse services. In total, 15 health centers in Ohio received more than $5 million in funding from HHS.

Brown outlined legislation he has introduced, which represents a comprehensive approach to address the entire spectrum of addiction. His bill would help address the opioid epidemic from prevention to recovery, filling in gaps that would help: boost prevention, improve tools for crisis response for those who fall through the cracks, expand access to treatment, and provide support for lifelong recovery.

Although the United States Senate recently passed legislation – the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 – to help tackle the opioid epidemic, Brown’s bill would help address the issue gaps that remain in addressing this issue. Specifically, Brown’s bill, the Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act, would:

Prevent Addiction by:

  • Implementing regular trainings for health care professionals who prescribe opioids to improve their ability to diagnose addiction.
  • Creating a grant program to improve tracking and reporting of fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses.

Respond to Ohioans in Crisis by:

  • Providing funding for communities to train first responders, physicians, pharmacists, and the public to respond quickly and effectively to prevent overdoses.
  • Making naloxone – a safe and effective medication that can reverse overdoses – more affordable and accessible, to ensure the medication can quickly reach communities that need it the most.
  • Funding syringe exchange programs that often offer a path to connect patients to treatment while decreasing the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C.

Expand Access to Treatment by:

  • Focusing effective medication-assisted treatment (MAT) on regions experiencing rapid increases in heroin and prescription opioid use.
  • Authorizing grants to increase access to residential treatment programs for pregnant and post-partum women who are struggling with addiction and creating a pilot program to allow for outpatient treatment services for pregnant women along the continuum of care.
  • Expanding the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) capacity to award grants to states experiencing rapid increases in heroin or other opioid use and to respond quickly using evidence-based interventions.
  • Increasing the pool of trained care providers by creating a loan repayment program for health professionals who treat individuals with substance use disorders.

Support Life-Long Recovery by:

  • Creating a National Youth Recovery Initiative by establishing a new grant program for accredited recovery high schools and institutions of higher education to provide substance use recovery support services to high school and college students.
  • Expanding recovery support services through mentorship, peer support, community education and outreach (including naloxone training), programs that reduce stigma or discrimination against individuals with substance use disorders, and developing partnerships between recovery support groups and community organizations.
  • Strengthening parity in mental health and substance use disorder health insurance benefits.

Earlier this month, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed another bill Brown has introduced, The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act), which would expand access to treatment, including MAT. The bill now awaits a vote by the full Senate.

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