Ohio’s diverse communities need more drug treatment

Too many Ohioans suffer from drug addiction without being able to access treatment. Ohio’s diverse communities need more support and treatment providers need more resources. Signs of the treatment gap in our communities include:

  • 55 of Ohio’s 88 counties do not have a residential or inpatient drug treatment facility.
  • 10 of Ohio’s 88 counties do not have a single drug treatment facility. Another 22 counties have only one facility in the entire county.
  • Fewer than half of Ohio counties have a drug treatment facility that offers detoxification services. Only 15 of Ohio 88 counties have drug treatment facilities that offer detox in a residential or inpatient setting.
  • 74 of Ohio’s 88 counties do not have a certified methadone treatment center. Only two are in rural areas of the state.

Ohioans need treatment services and facilities near our families, jobs, and communities. First responders encountering people with addiction need to be able to quickly get people into treatment and support. These treatment needs in our communities require sustained investment in solutions.

Spending on prisons has far outpaced investments in treatment and other community needs

Prison spending in Ohio nearly tripled from 1985 to 2016 to 1.8 billion per year. That growth has far outpaced other community needs – for example, prison spending grew nearly 8 times faster than education spending over that same time period. And, Ohio’s annual spending on prisons is seven times greater than its spending on building up drug treatment capacity across the state.

Issue 1 starts Ohio on a pathway to reversing that. Issue 1 redirects millions of dollars in prison spending every year to expand resources for drug treatment to our communities and to provide more services for victims of crime.

These funds will help preserve existing support for treatment providers and facilitate expansion of additional help to address the extensive need throughout Ohio. An expansion in care may result in faster access to treatment, opportunities for sustained treatment for longer periods of time, and more assistance in connecting to other resources that support recovery.

Through Issue 1, funds will be re-distributed via a direct grant program from OHMAS through a grants application process. Funding will be used for the full continuum of services, with importance placed on each stage (prevention, intervention, treatment, and wrap-around recovery services) to provide the best possible chance at health and hope for people with behavioral health needs.

Addressing root causes: Focus on Treatment, Recovery and Second Chances

Everyday people struggling with addiction cycle in and out of incarceration, getting worse not better, while our communities suffer from too little available treatment. Nonviolent people with addiction need ongoing treatment and help in our communities, not warehoused behind bars where problems get worse. The drug epidemic and broken prison system is destroying lives, families and communities. Issue 1 puts the focus on treatment instead of ineffective prison for low-level nonviolent users.

Instead of costly state prison beds, Issue 1 expands available treatment and requires “graduated responses” to address the cycle of addiction and crime. Relapse is often a challenge for people with addiction disorders. The graduated approach holds people accountable through sanctions combined with options beyond incarceration such as drug testing, community service, curfews, supervised probation, residential treatment and a more intensive level of services to resume recovery rather than being sent to prison, where people get worse not better.

Issue 1 also promotes family stability. Families don’t heal when someone suffering from addiction is sent to state prison. A parent going to prison often results in children entering the child welfare system, which is costly and disruptive to the child’s well-being. Other loved ones (grandparents, significant others, siblings) are also impacted when a member of the family is incarcerated.

Issue 1 also reduces the lifetime consequences of felony convictions that people with low-level drug convictions face after completing their sentence. People living with felony convictions are restricted from eligibility for jobs, housing, loans, professional trade associations and more. By changing low-level drug possession offenses to misdemeanors, people can become productive members of their families and society after completing their sentence.