Search for opioid abuse solutions needs to continue

Ohio is working at every angle to attack the substance abuse epidemic that continues to grip our region. A recent change could make a big difference in the way we think about and therefore react to drug overdoses.

For many of us, the overdose data with which we are familiar involves fatalities. That doesn’t give us the whole picture. Now, a change approved by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review will require emergency departments to report nonfatal drug overdoses to the Ohio Department of Health.

As Gov. Mike DeWine put it, this is a way to do better to “address the overdose crisis, to support those in recovery, and to encourage wellness to prevent addiction in the first place.”

More accurate information, including a better picture of the populations or geographic areas disproportionately affected by nonfatal overdoses, will help ODH develop strategies and allocation of resources that truly target the problem.

“The purpose of this new rule is to improve the coordination of care for individuals who have previously experienced a drug overdose,” RecoveryOhio Director Aimee Shadwick said. “Studies show an elevated risk of death from overdose in individuals who had recently reported a nonfatal overdose. Adding this new reporting feature will provide health-care professionals with additional tools available in real time.”

It’s another important step in Ohio’s fight. We’re already making headway with the expansion of accessibility to naloxone. In the Buckeye State, the number of unintentional drug overdose fatalities has decreased by 5% since 2022. Nationwide, that figure has ticked up 1%.

These are important efforts. Our successes must be applauded, but the search for more such ideas must not stop.


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