There is no doubt that people all over the country are struggling to keep their heads above water amid the opioid crisis that we are in, however, some places across the United States are hotbeds for this ever-growing epidemic.
Ohio is one of them.
Right behind West Virginia, Ohio remains in second place for the most opioid-related overdoses in the country. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, rates of overdose increased 41% between 2016 and 2017. Across the country, the average increase in overdose deaths was 17%. As heroin, fentanyl, and other prescription painkillers flood the four borders of Ohio at an increasingly alarming rate, more and more citizens are grappling with opioid addiction. Many of them are losing their lives.
So in an effort to address the excessively large mortality rates caused by opioid overdose, syringe programs were put into place. Ohio has a total of 13 syringe facilities that are up and running at 21 different locations. And, the number of these programs is set to grow, as nearly six other counties in Ohio are interested in starting their own syringe programs. However, syringe programs cannot flourish, or even be developed, without the appropriate Federal funding.
John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, along with his administration and the Ohio Department of Health, have been preventing any federal funding from reaching syringe programs throughout the state.
Known as a Notice of Determination, this form is needed to alert the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that federal funding is needed for syringe programs in Ohio. It has been reported that the form itself has been completely filled out, however, it is awaiting the signature of Ohio Department of Health Director Lance Himes – and has been since April.
The Kasich administration has yet to comment on why the Notice of Determination has not been sent through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it appear that there may not be an intent to actually provide funding for the syringe programs in Ohio. If this is the case, these programs, which have been proven to be highly effective in decreasing the spread of blood-borne diseases and stopping overdoses, will go under.
How Does Federal Funding Help Syringe Programs?
Many syringe programs receive donations from countless people, which is extremely helpful. However, donations do not support the continuation of these programs. Federal funding serves as the financial backbone of these programs’ success.
The money that the Kasich administration is preventing from reaching syringe programs totals up to a few million each year. In the grand scheme of things, a few million dollars is not a large amount, however, it would make a massive difference in the overall function of syringe programs. On top of that, the HIV Prevention and Surveillance grant, which provides syringe programs with the majority of their money, only happens once every five years. This year, the grant is available again and set to provide Ohio with approximately $7.6 million each year, which is about one million more than offered in the last grant five years ago.
By standing in the way of these federal funds, several negative outcomes can develop, ranging from increased instances of HIV and hepatitis, as well as countless more overdose deaths for the state of Ohio. And while syringe programs are extremely controversial, many people would argue that blocking this funding is the same as signing thousands of more death certificates for those living in Ohio.
Benefits of Syringe Programs
As previously mentioned, syringe programs and their functions are very controversial. Some people simply do not believe in providing ways for addicted individuals to abuse opioids, while others believe that it helps put somewhat of a cap on the madness that is the opioid epidemic. Regardless of the personal controversy, syringe programs throughout the United States have proven to be incredibly effective in a number of ways, including:
- Overdose prevention – When individuals go to a syringe program, they are able to use the drugs that they have in a setting where there are qualified and trained professionals available should an overdose occur. However, many of those who use these programs tend to use less they normally do, which limits the opportunities for an overdose to occur.
- Testing of medications – Many syringe programs have test strips available so that individuals can test their drugs to see what is in them. This has been a huge benefit in recent years, as fentanyl and other potent opioids have been added to heroin and other prescription drugs. As a result, people can determine what they are using before they use it, and make the decision if they want to use it or not.
- Controlling the spread of disease – All opioids can be injected when broken down into the right form. Sadly, those who are addicted to opioids have increased rates of hepatitis and HIV. But when using a syringe program, individuals can ensure the use of clean needles and proper disposal, decreasing instances of blood-borne disease.
- Addiction education – When individuals go to syringe programs, there are several options available regarding addiction education. Even just talking with someone who works at a syringe program can get an individual thinking about getting into treatment. In some cases, individuals have gotten into treatment by visiting their syringe program.
So, despite the controversy, syringe programs have not increased rates of opioid addiction. They have not increased instances of blood-borne diseases. And they have not stopped individuals from getting professional treatment. Instead, however, they have effectively controlled all of these things for the better and can continue to do so with the appropriate funding.
Do You Need Help?
There is absolutely no shame in reaching out for help if you are addicted to opioids and/or any other substances. Addiction is a powerful disease that can infiltrate several different areas of your life if you allow it to persist. Finding a way to obtain treatment can be your greatest chance at living a happy, healthy life free from opioid addiction.
If you need help ending your addiction, do not wait any longer. Contact us right now so that we can get you started on your journey to recovery. We will support and guide you along the way, and help you develop all the skills needed to move forward with a recovered mind, body, and spirit.
Call us today. We are ready to help you stop abusing opioids, regain your focus, and encourage you to live in the light. Nothing is standing in the way except for yourself. Reach out right now. We can help.