Ohio is leading the way in substance use initiatives; while opiate use has declined, other substances like cocaine and meth have experienced a discouraging resurgence. According to the Center’s for Disease Control provisional data from 2018, stimulant overdoses continue to rise. Our state has a long history of prioritizing the improvement of factors that lead to health and wellness of its’ residents.  I am writing today in support of recently introduced legislation – the Combating Meth and Cocaine Act – will allow us to continue addressing addiction as a whole, rather than simply in its various individual forms.

The legislation proposed expands and increases funds for the State Opioid Response Grant. The funding originated from the 1 billion dollars 21st Century Cures Act that allotted state funds to fight the opioid epidemic in FY17&18. This new legislation offers more flexibility on dealing with the crisis and is not limited to only opioids; it wisely includes methamphetamines and cocaine. It allots 500 million dollars annually for five years to build stable programming to prevent and treat substance use.   These are dollars that will lead to comprehensive, sustainable addiction focused services.

On the national level, more than 23,000 overdose deaths, almost a third of all overdose deaths in 2017 involve meth, cocaine or both. We have sadly witnessed firsthand, the use of meth and cocaine rising dramatically in both Delaware and Morrow Counties. Throughout the state the statistics are staggering. Ohio University released a study in October 2018, it cited nine overdose deaths from psychostimulants in 2010 and over 550 overdose deaths in 2017. This over six-thousand percent increase is unacceptable, and it is time to change those numbers. Each statistic represents someone’s loved one, a real person that leaves a hole in a family; in a community.

This federal funding will allow Ohio and thus Delaware and Morrow Counties to continue the fight against substance use and addiction. The legislation will help combat the drug crisis beyond opioids and help address the bigger picture of substance use. I urge Congress to take action and pass this legislation to make sure resources are available to continue to save lives and restore communities.

Deanna Brant, Executive Director, Delaware-Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board