County to receive funding to fight opioid epidemic

LISBON — The county is slated to receive a share of the $26 million in federal funding to fight the state’s opioid epidemic.

Republican Senator Rob Portman recently announced the funding is part of the 21st Century CURES law and will be distributed by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction through local Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health boards in Ohio communities and state-wide initiatives.

The CURES law was enacted in 2016 and this is the second year the state has received $26 million in funding, according to Portman’s press release.

Columbiana County is slated to receive $176,433, while neighboring Mahoning, Jefferson and Stark counties will receive $146,000, $141,031 and $318,000 respectively.

The counties are among others to receive the funding, with Hamilton County set to receive the most at $1.39 million. Franklin County will receive the second highest amount of funding, at $1.375 million.

“This is terrific news for Ohio, and these new funds will help continue our efforts to combat the heroin and prescription drug epidemic gripping our state,” Portman said in the release.

The senator helped secure the funding in the 2016 law, which has provided $1 billion over two years nationally to fight the heroin and prescription drug epidemic since it was enacted.

The funding can be used for improving prescription drug monitoring programs, prevention, training for health care workers, and improving access to treatment for individuals struggling with a substance abuse disorder, the release stated.

“I was proud to help secure the opioid funding included in the CURES legislation, and I have seen firsthand how this law is making a difference across our state. This is another positive step forward, but we must do more, and that’s why I continue to push for common-sense solutions like the STOP Act and CARA 2.0 that will help us turn the tide of addiction in Ohio and around the country,” Portman said.

The STOP Act, (which stands for Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention) was recently passed by the House and is awaiting Senate vote. It is geared toward stopping synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped into the U.S.

Locally, drug overdose deaths in the Columbiana County were at a record of 41 in 2017, up from the 2016 record of 37, according to the county coroner’s annual report that was released in June.

Overdose deaths in the county have been on an upward trend since 2009, reaching 26 in 2013 before dropping to 19 the next year, and then jumping to 27 in 2015 and steadily increasing as the local opioid crisis grew worse.

The report showed that of the 41 accidental overdose deaths last year, eight occurred within the East Liverpool zip code, with the Lisbon and Salem zip codes tied for second, with six overdose deaths each, followed by Columbiana and Wellsville, with three each. The remaining 11 were spread among the remaining zip codes or involved non-county residents who overdosed in the county.

Fentanyl was among the most common drugs found in their systems, alongside cocaine, morphine, and other dangerous drugs.

In 2016, the top three most commonly found drugs in overdose victims were fentanyl, cocaine and heroin.

County officials and non-profit organizations have joined together with local law enforcement to host roundtable discussions over the last few years in an effort to find ways to combat the problem locally.

The county chambers of commerce hosted a community “Solutions to Recovery” forum on the opioid epidemic in June at the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center.

The county mental health and recovery board was a part of that forum, as well as other local and state programs and organizations.