If you look at prescription opioids and overdoses related to them without any fentanyl involved, Ohio is at an 8-year low. For the Kasich Administration, this is a point that cannot be lauded more.
“There is a perception, I may be incorrect about this, that somehow this problem of drug abuse in our state is raging out of control,” Kasich said. “That is simply not true.”
“What that means is, it’s not growing; it means that we’re winning; we’re starting to beat this down,” Kasich said.
He went on to say the days of prescribed opiate deaths are over. And the data seems to show he could be right. With all of the efforts the Kasich Administration has made to regulate the prescribing of opioids, fewer doses have been given out. Simple math, fewer doses means fewer opportunities to overdose.
“As the addiction to opiates declines, prescribed opiates decline, you will not have as many people out there buying these drugs on the street corner,” Kasich said.
But some struggle to make that math work. According to the Ohio Department of Health, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are killing thousands of Ohioans as they are laced into street drugs like heroin, cocaine and meth.
Last year 4,854 people died from an overdose and nearly half of them involved cocaine or a drug like meth. The Department of Health says, of that 4,854, 71% also involved fentanyl or a synthetic like it.
Cocaine overdoses were up 39% with more than 400 more people dying of an overdose in 2017 than did in 2016. Meth overdoses more than doubled from 233 in 2016 to 537 in 2017. And all of that is with the stepped up efforts of the Ohio State Highway Patrol in their pursuit of drug traffickers trying to bring narcotics into the State.
Kasich reminded everyone that the state invests around $1 billion to battle drug abuse and addiction. More than half of that money comes from the federal government; around 56.3% of it according to State officials after compiling data from multiple state agencies.
When asked if the State could or should be doing more, Kasich responded in ways both frustrated and measured.
“If somebody can tell me how I can keep somebody from going to the street corner and buying cocaine from a dealer, I’m all ears,” Kasich said. “I just don’t know what else we can do other than to warn people about these dangers.”
When pressed about what needed to happen next, Kasich said, “We’re not done yet, but I would hope for the next administration, they would continue to look at the weaknesses in our system, that they would continue to stay on top of all of these issues; to work with the community so that we can have even more improvement.”
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