Overdose deaths are on the rise in the country, but Ohio alone has seen an increase of over 25%.
Ohio went from 4,410 overdoses in 2020 to 5,585 this year according to the CDC numbers, an increase of 26.6%.
In recent weeks, data showed that more than 100,000 people died in America due to drug overdoses – a record number. The new 12-month number of 100,306 overdose deaths is nearly double the 49,387 national drug overdose deaths in 2015.
U.S Senator for Ohio Rob Portman addressed the epidemic on the senate floor Monday evening.
“I’m on the floor today to talk about a major public health crisis facing our country. One that is resulting in thousands of people losing their lives, causing the death of over 100,000 Americans a year, negatively impacted so many millions more in my home state of Ohio and all around the country. And no, I’m not talking about COVID-19,” Senator Portman said. “I’m talking about an epidemic within the pandemic. I’m talking about the surging epidemic of drug use and addiction that has fueled a record number of overdose deaths and threatens to get even worse.”
Portman acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic is real, but he feels the drug issue needs the same attention.
“In the past 19 months or so our attention has understandably been directed towards the COVID-19 crisis. And once again, we see with Omicron the possibility of another variant coming and those public health challenges are real. But I’ve got to tell you, it’s led us to ignore another crisis,” Senator Portman said. “The Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, recently issued a report which was shocking and should serve as a wake-up call to all of us. It said that between April of 2020 and April 2021, the most recent period for which we have data, we had over 100,000 individuals lose their lives to drug overdose deaths in this country. That’s the highest ever. It’s a record.“
Senator Portman said Narcan, the nasal spray used to save lives when people overdose, is not the most viable answer to the drug crisis happening in America right now.
“Using Narcan again and again and again to save someone’s life is not the answer. The answer is to get that person into treatment so that person can get back to his or her family, his or her work, and a more normal life and to be more productive in life,” he said. “I’ve also met with families and loved ones affected, hearing their stories about how losing a family member to addiction has had such a negative impact, often tearing those families apart. And of course, I’ve talked to a lot of people in recovery who’ve told me about the grip of addiction on their lives and how they got help and what worked and what didn’t work.”