The opiate crisis continues to destroy lives in our state and around the country. As we’ve worked through the state budget process this year in the House, I wanted to reflect on an enormous accomplishment that was included in the final budget bill and discuss a new development in the fight against opioid addiction here in southeast Ohio.
As Chairman of the House Finance Committee, it is my job to work with fellow legislators to construct a state budget that funds vital services around the state. We made the fight against opiate addiction our biggest priority this year after seeing Ohio lead the nation in opioid overdose deaths.
This led to the creation of the HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education and Safety) Agenda, a package of investments that provided $180 million of new money to support four key areas of need in the fight against opioid addiction: prevention, treatment, mental health and our workforce.
With major investments in new public health programs, an expansion of Child Protective Services and Kinship Care, and boosts to caregivers on the frontlines, we are hoping to have a real impact in this fight and to save as many lives as possible. A priority was placed on helping those with mental illnesses and providing incentives to help addicted individuals get back on track, as well as providing support to their families. I hope to see real change for addicted Ohioans and their loved ones through these provisions of the state budget.
I was also pleased to join over 100 of my neighbors this week at the ribbon cutting for the new Recovery House at the Field of Hope Community Campus in Gallia County. By repairing and updating the old North Gallia High School property with state grant funding, the Recovery House can now house drug-addicted women from our area in this 16-bed residential facility and help them on their path to recovery.
Through counseling, workforce training and round-the-clock care, this facility has the ability to change lives and bring hope to many people struggling with addiction who may have thought recovery was impossible.
I will continue to fight this deadly epidemic however I can, and I applaud the efforts of people like Field of Hope CEO Kevin Dennis and his staff to provide quality treatment options in our area. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns about this or any other legislative issue.
Ryan Smith is a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives, serving the 93rd District. His district includes all of Gallia and Jackson counties as well as much of Lawrence and Vinton counties.