Opioid Addiction in Ohio

April 13, 2022

People and Planet: Opioid addiction plagues towns across Ohio

By Meg Diehl | For The Post

From the biggest city in Ohio to the most isolated towns, opioid addiction is a dangerously prevalent epidemic in many communities, accounting for 70% of all drug overdoses occuring in the state. In the heart of Columbus, syringes can be found littered in the street, while the sparsely populated Pike County is at high risk for HIV and hepatitis C outbreaks from sharing needles.

In Ohio at large, most everyone knows somebody who is addicted to opiods. In 2018, 46,802 drug overdoses were a result of opioid use.

When one visits Columbus’ city website, there is literature available on various forms of harm reduction, free fentanyl test strips, access to naloxone, hepatitis C testing, as well as lists of prevention and education programs. While these are all helpful resources, it should not fall on everyday people to prevent overdose and severe illness but on public policy regarding the legal process for those addicted to opiods and the ethical standards and regulations to which drug manufacturers are held.

For many who become addicted to opioids, the addiction begins with a prescription. In the late 1990s, Perdu Pharma released Oxycontin as a painkiller, and within two years, the medication accounted for 80% of the company’s profits. Due to its low street value, it was easy to attain and many overdoses occurred.

Increasingly common, however, is fentanyl, which is 50-100 times more potent than natural morphine and often laced in heroin on the street unbeknownst to the person using it. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of fentanyl overdoses doubled. Higher regulation of drug companies would likely reduce the chance of them releasing other addictive medications.

Unfortunately, various politicians are too loyal to drug companies for this to happen. While drug manufacturers have created countless life-changing medications and vaccines, there have been too many instances of companies sacrificing the safety and well-being of vulnerable people for a profit, such as the production of addictive prescription drugs including opioids and high prices for medication that is helpful.

Next to ethical issues within the pharmaceutical industry is the treatment of addicts within the criminal justice system. If you are caught with heroin in Ohio, you face six months to 11 years in prison.

What would be more productive than prison time is mandatory, long-term rehabilitation programs and drug counseling. Implementing such procedures would aid instead of inhibit those struggling with addiction all across the state and overall improve their well-being, instead of preventing them from moving on and starting over.

The opioid epidemic has plagued the midwest and rural areas, specifically across Ohio. Regardless of the demographic and political differences of somebody from Cleveland in comparison to somebody from Adams County, everybody has been touched by addiction. In such a volatile political context, putting bipartisan effort into ending the opioid crisis would be a unifying and healing process for everyone.

Meg Diehl is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Meg by tweeting her at @irlbug.

AUTHOR: Meg Diehl
EDITOR: Mikayla Rochelle
COPY EDITOR: Anna Garnai
WEB DEVELOPMENT: Anastasia Carter