The Ohio House is committed to fighting our state’s drug epidemic. We recently passed our plan to face this issue with bold reforms in the state’s operating budget. Our plan is not a piecemeal approach, but rather one that identifies and prioritizes areas of greatest need. This problem requires a holistic response, ranging from prevention to helping addicts re-enter the workforce free from substance abuse.
This problem won’t be solved by leaders in Columbus or Washington D.C. alone. Therefore, the House’s plan equips local communities with the tools necessary to heal themselves. Counties will designate a lead hub agency to coordinate community activities aimed at tackling their area’s drug problem. This group will bring together churches, businesses, schools and anyone committed to overcoming drug-related issues. There can no longer be isolated silos when it comes to addiction, which is why our plan encourages neighbors, friends, coaches and teachers to work together.
This package is designed to connect citizens to services. Individuals in need of help will be able to access resources specific to their location through an app, website and 24/7 hotline. Boards of alcohol, drug addiction and mental health services (ADAMHS), who are truly on the front lines of this fight, will be reinforced with $24 million in additional resources. Judges will be granted another $6 million to expand drug courts, which have proven to be among the most effective tools for rehabilitating individuals, and $1.4 million is dedicated for a mental health court pilot program.
Often, those most harshly affected by the drug crisis are the children of addicts, who suffer traumatic events and abuse; cases involving child protective services have skyrocketed. Our plan appropriates $30 million to give these children access to needed services, along with another $20 million to assist kinship care for displaced children. These resources and engagement by community hubs will assist in placing children desperately in need of foster parents or adoption.
Because too many Ohioans lack access to treatment, our plan invests $20 million into treatment centers and $18 million into detox centers—greatly expanding treatment options and reducing wait times. Upon completing treatment, people will be supported by another $12 million for transitional housing and workforce reentry programs. The House will leverage funds to expand training options and certification opportunities to get folks back to work and living productive lives.
This package takes a significant step toward freeing people from addiction. Ohio is in tight fiscal times, but this robust $170-million investment demonstrates how serious the House is about combating this scourge. These appropriations are coupled with policies designed to empower families, community leaders, faith groups and treatment providers, who hold the key to eradicating drug abuse. These and other unsung heroes give hope to people struggling with addiction. Currently, many feel disconnected and without options, but I hope they know we support them, want them to succeed and are devoting substantial resources to their futures. Without your help, this plan will be unsuccessful, but I believe we have the right tools and people to make meaningful progress in this battle.
Ryan Smith is a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives, serving the 93rd District.