Lawmakers Say More Needs To Be Done To Combat Heroin Epidemic In Ohio

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UPDATED: Tuesday May 13, 2014 5:57 PM

For more than 30 years, Doctor Brad Lander has treated people with addictions.  But he never imagined he would be dealing with the kinds of heroin users he sees today.

"It used to be (that) back in the day your average heroin addict was probably 40 to 50-years-old when they came into treatment.   Now the average heroin is addict is about 25-years old," he says.

Doctor Lander says the waiting list at Talbot Hall is about a week.  He says there just aren't enough beds, and blames insurance companies that have cut back on reimbursements, so he can't treat everyone who asks for help.

"Because we don't get reimbursements, we can't bill for it.   We've actually lost our adolescent program," he says.

Today, a group of democratic lawmakers argued Governor John Kasich hasn't done enough to address this issue.   They want more treatment centers, and say the state needs to ask some very simple questions about heroin.

"Why is it so cheap? Why is it so prevalent in our state? And what are we doing to deal with it?" says State Representative Dan Ramos a Democrat from Lorain.

The governor spokesperson responded by saying, the governor has been crusading against opioids before he took office. It’s great that these representatives want to join in the fight. This is a fight where we need all oars in the water.

These lawmakers say the state also needs to address the heroin epidemic as it related to children.

"600,000 school-age children - by the time they are in the 12th grade - will have tried a prescription drug or opiate,” says State Representative Heather Bishoff, a Democrat from Blacklick.

As for Doctor Lander, he says what's happening in Ohio as it pertains to heroin isn’t working.  "The system is severely broken.”

The Democratic Caucus wants to use $100 million dollars from a Medicaid surplus to fund more treatment centers. They also want to use $10 million dollars to help cities hire more police officers through a grant program, and add more school resource officers.

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