Governor John Kasich announced the creation of a prescription drug task force this week in an effort to bolster the state’s fight against prescription drug abuse. This came as he spoke in Scioto County, an area that’s been particularly troubled with the influx of abuse.
Last year, Scioto County dispensed 9.7 million doses of prescription painkillers. To put that in perspective, that’s 123 doses for every single person in the county (children included).
One woman who spoke at the meeting in Scioto County lost her daughter to an overdose. The 34 year old came to a pain clinic in Portsmouth to have her prescription filled after she couldn’t get it filled at home. That same clinic was later closed for illegally selling oxycodone and other prescription drugs.
Governor Kasich announced his commitment to reducing the problem and in a state where accidental drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death, such commitment is warranted. Among the ways he says the government will help:
- A multi-agency prescription drug task force designed to cooperatively tackle the issues from law enforcement, treatment, medical, and other angles.
- A signed executive order allowing treatment providers to use new medications to treat addiction, namely a new substance called Suboxone which reportedly prevents other opiates from having any effects on the user.
- $100,000 for a new treatment center in Portsmouth to hopefully join another $300,000 in federal funds.
This seems to be a very noble effort by the governor, and a good approach—attacking the problem from a treatment and health angle, not only through the criminal justice system. Addiction is a public health concern and not one that can simply solved with jail time.
Too often treatment takes a back seat when someone is addicted to drugs. Instead, their problems aren’t realized until they encounter law enforcement and then the addiction plays an inferior role to the violation of criminal law. By hopefully giving treatment a bigger role in the criminal justice system the governor can prevent future criminality by preventing it at its source, the addiction.
This doesn’t mean people who break the law because of addiction won’t have to pay for their crime. However, if the governor’s commitment to remedying the problem spreads to other branches of the government (including the courts) we can hope that plea negotiations and jail alternatives are given more serious consideration by judges and prosecutors alike.
If you are facing drug charges and believe you could benefit from treatment, contact me today. We can discuss your options and get started on building a proper defense strategy.