Professionals specializing in drug treatment and recovery services are closely watching efforts in the Senate to pass the nation’s first comprehensive approach to addressing addiction.
The Senate is expected to vote on the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act this week. The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), would help combat the heroin epidemic in communities across Ohio and throughout the country.
The bill authorizes grants and funding to:
- State substance abuse agencies, local governments and nonprofit organizations that have a high rate or rapid increase in the use of opioids (heroin and prescription opioid pain relievers);
- States and units of local government to implement medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs through criminal justice agencies;
- Recovery community organizations to enable them to develop, expand, and enhance recovery services.
The bill would also expand treatment alternatives to incarceration and expand educational opportunities for those who are incarcerated, support youth, pregnant women and mothers who are recovering from substance abuse, and make the overdose-reversal drug naloxone more readily available to emergency responders.
“Fighting the heroin, opioid and prescription drug abuse epidemic is not a one step process,” said Trey Dyer, a writer and advocate for drug abuse treatment through the website drugrehab.com. “The first thing the U.S. needs to do to combat this issue is help those with addictions get treatment, not to simply incarcerate non-violent drug offenders.”
More people in Butler County died from heroin-related overdoses in 2015 than suicides, traffic crashes, other accidents, homicides and undetermined causes combined, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office.
Dyer, whose has witnessed a loved one sinking into the depths of addiction, said drugrehab.com creates a unit of people across the country who are in the addiction fight together.
“We try and provide drug users and their loved ones the best online resource possible to identify an addiction and to find professional, high quality help,” he said.
The website offers information on drug treatment and support groups as well as where to find treatment facilities in some areas of the country.
“Often people do not realize that rehab treatment could be the only chance they have to save their life,” he said.
Many local residents with loved ones battling drug addiction are finding support and resources through online communities.
The blogs and websites have become a one-stop shop for those in need of professional resources to help their family or friends fight drug addiction. The communities also offer “online therapy” for these caregivers.
Our Young Addicts is a “community of parents and professionals who share experiences, resources and hopes — no matter where your your kid may be on the spectrum of experimentation, recreation, use, abuse, addiction, treatment, relapse, or recovery,” according to the site.
Butler County resident John Robinson said those struggling with addiction, and the people who love them, need access to as many resources as possible.
“I can’t believe when I see things like that,” said Robinson, referring a story published in the Journal-News about the family of Charles Michael Niles.
Niles was 53 years old when he walked into a bathroom and injected the needle containing the heroin that took his life.
“There has to be new ways out there to stop this,” Robinson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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