OTHER VOICES

The (Canton) Repository, Nov. 14

The numbers are staggering: 46 people die each day in the United States from an overdose of prescription painkillers. Among people ages 25 to 64 years old, fatal drug overdoses claim more lives than motor vehicle accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Ohio, drug overdose deaths skyrocketed 366 percent between 2000 and 2012, largely due to heroin and prescription opioid painkiller abuse.

Lawmakers have tried to keep these drugs from getting in the hands of abusers. A state crackdown of pill mills and the overprescribing of painkillers has helped curb the problem. Overdose deaths from prescription painkillers actually dropped in Ohio for the first time since 2003, the Associated Press reported earlier this year…

As we’ve said previously, true efforts to curtail the problem must include effective treatment – not the decades-long practice of throwing drug addicts in prison…While Ohio must work to make medications like methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol more readily available to addicts, there must also be a defined path for addicts after they exit the doors of detox.

So it was an encouraging sign last week when Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services pledged $10 million for recovery housing beds in hardest-hit communities.

The money will help fund 657 recovery beds across Ohio, including eight for Stark, for people who’ve completed an addiction treatment program, but need a long-term solution toward sobriety. Recovery housing acts as a bridge from addiction to an independent, productive lifestyle. Studies show that residents of recovery homes are far more likely to maintain their sobriety, avoid incarceration and find work in the long run…

Recovery housing won’t prevent addiction, but it may well slow or stop the cycle of abuse that all too often has fatal consequences.