People fighting heroin epidemic pushing state for more treatment

EMT's treat heroin patient with Narcan after they overdose. (WSYX/WTTE)

People fighting the heroin epidemic in Ohio asked lawmakers at the Statehouse Tuesday for more money to fund programs they think have worked.

Former state representative Denise Driehaus was back at the Statehouse asking for funding for several programs being tried in Hamilton County. The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition is trying an idea from Louisville, Kentucky where inmates are held in a separate area. They're then connected to treatment programs.

"We are the epicenter of the epidemic in Ohio," Driehaus said. "We need resources to fund what works."

She also asked for money for more "quick response teams" who go help people overdosing. Those teams connect people with treatment as well.

"We haven't had a lot of success in getting funding for the epidemic," she said. "I'm hopeful in this budget we'll see some success."

Brenda Stewart and her husband Mark run a support group for other parents who also have children struggling with addiction like they do. They said the status quo hasn't worked.

"If we're going to give our children a chance, we have to start treating them somewhere, sometime, somehow and that's not happening today," said Brenda Stewart with The Addict's Parent Alliance. "I mean they OD, we they give them the Narcan and they release them out."

Other advocates for providing more treatment options said state lawmakers should realize paying for treatment is a good investment.

"It's cheaper to have treatment (than prison) and you have a substantially better outcome," said retired drug court judge Scott Vanderkarr.

Driehaus said the programs being tried in Cincinnati could become models for the rest of Ohio.

The state budget is still in committee, so it has a long way to go before being approved.

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