Drugs, Addiction, and Treatment in Ohio

Ohio is Fighting Agains Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease that negatively impacts physical health, relationships and emotional well-being, yet there continues to be a large treatment gap in the United States. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) found that of the estimated 22 million Americans in need of professional treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD), less than three million received the care necessary to recover. Ohio addiction treatment is becoming increasingly obtainable to counteract the state’s growing drug epidemic. With more preventative programs in place and treatment options available to meet the diverse needs of residents, Ohio is actively fighting back to promote recovery and well-being 

Overdose Deaths are Growing in Ohio

Ohio is home to stunning mountain views, serene landscapes and bustling metro areas, but behind its natural beauty lies a deep-rooted problem – opioid abuse. The NIH has consistently ranked it among the top five states with the highest amounts of opioid-related overdose deaths. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) found an alarming 642 percent increase in the number of accidental drug overdoses within the state. In addition to this, overdose-related deaths remained the leading cause of death in-state for many years in a row.

Fentanyl EffectsFentanyl is believed to be involved in almost 60 percent of overdose deaths as of a 2017 report conducted by the ODH

With the introduction of fentanyl in recent years, a powerful synthetic opioid, the crisis has grown to overwhelming proportions. Fentanyl is believed to be involved in almost 60 percent of overdose deaths as of a 2017 report conducted by the ODH. While this FDA approved drug is rarely prescribed, it is easy to replicate on the black market. Illegally produced fentanyl is unpredictable. Some forms of the drug can be hundreds of times stronger than heroin, making it a high-risk substance that can easily lead to serious consequences. In addition to this, fentanyl-like substances have also appeared such as carfentanil which mimics its potency and effects. In addition to this, prescription opioids and heroin continue to dominate the substance abuse epidemic in Ohio as well as a growing trend in cocaine abuse. 

Mixing Substances Adds Overdoses

The current report published by the ODH suggests a growing number of individuals with a SUD using opioids and cocaine together specifically. Mixing substances is a common occurrence that can lead to devastating consequences and significantly increases the risk for accidental overdose. Ohio addiction treatment centers are capable of addressing this growing trend and helping clients recover from multiple addictions as well as co-occurring disorders.   Prescription opioids are typically prescribed in cases of severe pain such as chronic pain caused by an injury. They are not usually intended to be a long-term solution because of their highly addictive nature. Unfortunately, many people become dependent on their prescription medication both physically and emotionally. This is considered by many to be the beginning phase of a full-blown addiction.
In other cases, prescription opioids are obtained illegally and abused by individuals without an established medical need for the drugs.   Surprisingly, opioid prescriptions in the state of Ohio have declined as a result of a statewide initiative to reduce substance abuse, yet countless people continue to access them. Drug dealers often mimic prescriptions in makeshift labs or obtain them through other methods and sell them on the streets. In recent years, fentanyl is believed to be used by drug dealers to hook individuals on other opioids such as heroin, thus increasing sales as a result.  

Medical Complications From Substance Abuse

Substance use is known for significantly increasing the risk of serious medical complications among users. Individuals who smoke, inhale or snort drugs are at an increased risk of developing chronic respiratory problems and in some cases, lung cancer. Pneumonia and tuberculosis can also develop. In cases where drugs are directly injected into the bloodstream, damage to the blood vessels and heart valves can form. Scarring, boils and bacterial infections may also surface and lead to more serious complications such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Serious blood clots may also arise as a result of additives in illegal substances that the body cannot break down. Brain damage is also associated with substance abuse and can lead to permanent impairments in motor skills, memory and even speech.   In many cases, chronic substance use can also lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts. The presence of both a SUD and mental illness is known as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis and is becoming increasingly diagnosed. Fortunately, Ohio addiction treatment is on the rise to address this trend.

What Ohio is Doing to Fight Addiction  

The Ohio Department of Health found that direct and indirect drug-related expenses total to over five million dollars each day. The state of Ohio is actively combatting its growing drug epidemic through various measures which will reduce the toll on its local economy. According to the Enquirer, it plans to specifically increase community-based response in addition to establishing more treatment centers across the state. This plan will make it easier for residents to access local recovery resources. Currently, the state is focusing on creating more educational resources in an effort to prevent addiction, especially among school-aged children. It is also encouraging law enforcement and medical providers to screen individuals for a SUD and refer them to treatment immediately. Other initiatives include increasing pre-release services in jails to prevent further drug-related offenses, extending more recovery-based housing options to individuals in recovery and provide help with independent living in order to increase self-reliance and well-being among individuals who have completed Ohio addiction treatment. Ohio is also providing easier access to life-saving drugs such as naloxone which can prevent and even reverse an overdose from opioids. This initiative is designed to reduce opioid-related deaths in the state. Current programs in Ohio that target the drug and alcohol crisis include:

Prescription Drug Abuse Action Group

The PDAAG shares drug-related information and resources across the state to educate the public. It also works to increase naloxone access and has established opioid prescription guidelines that medical professionals must follow in order to reduce access to highly addictive drugs.  

Project DAWN  

Project DAWN is committed to educating Ohio-based communities about the use of naloxone and making it more accessible. It offers hands-on training to help individuals understand the signs of an overdose and take appropriate action.  

Prescription for Prevention  

Prescription for Prevention is an awareness campaign that provides educational resources such as fact sheets, treatment resource lists and other forms of media to the general public in Ohio. This initiative aims to increase knowledge of the drug epidemic in order to build awareness and encourage individuals to become more active in the fight to reduce it.


The VIPP closely monitors the circumstances that surround deaths by overdose in Ohio in order to better prevent them. It also provides data reports to the public as well as overdose-related educational resources.

Options for Drug Treatment in Ohio

Finding the right treatment for a SUD can be challenging, but recent statewide initiatives have made it easier than ever before. With a growing number of inpatient and outpatient services and a simplified referral process, you can be well on your way to recovery. Before jumping into the process, you should know that there are different formats of treatment available to address each client’s diverse needs.  

Inpatient Treatment

The most popular and widely used option is known as inpatient rehabilitation or residential treatment. This format is associated with the highest success rate for several reasons. Firstly, it offers a necessary change of environment in a safe, peaceful and productive facility. Many people struggling with addiction live with daily triggers in their current environment which may include friends or family who also abuse substances and easy access to drugs and alcohol. Residential programs require clients to live on-site for a set duration which ultimately reduces their access to harmful substances. In addition to this, inpatient Ohio addiction treatment programs follow a structured daily routine which increases client productivity. Other benefits include the following: 
  • 24/7 supervision
  • On-site therapy and psychiatric services
  • Coaching
  • Recreational activities
  • Healthy socialization outlets
  • Medication monitoring and disbursement
  • Transitional services
  • Medical Detoxification
  Residential treatment can occur on a short or long-term basis depending on your needs. Short-term programs typically last around 90 days while longer variations can span six months or more. Intensive inpatient programs are typically reserved for individuals who have struggled with long-term and persistent addiction, multiple addictions and who have failed to maintain recovery with other treatment options in the past. Residential Ohio addiction treatment often requires a blackout period in which residents have limited or no access to visitors and cannot leave the grounds. Blackout periods are designed to prevent relapse which is most common during the beginning stages of the recovery process. They also enable clients to focus solely on their well-being and adjust to the structure of their treatment plan.  

Outpatient Rehabilitation 

Another popular treatment format is known as outpatient rehabilitation. Unlike inpatient treatment, it does not require you to relocate. Instead, clients are able to maintain their current living situation and attend treatment according to a set schedule. It offers many of the same amenities as residential programs but is not capable of providing consistent supervision and quick access to support if needed. As a result, it is not a good option for anyone living with a severe or persistent addiction. It may not be right for individuals with a challenging home environment or who lack a dedicated support system.  

Medication-assisted Therapy 

Medication-assisted therapy (MAT), part of Ohio’s plan for tackling rising opioid addiction specifically, is also on a rise and typically offered through inpatient programs. It incorporates medications such as methadone and buprenorphine which have been shown to reduce problematic behaviors and cravings among opioid users. When used along with counseling and careful monitoring, MAT can significantly reduce the risk for relapse.    


Therapy plays an integral role in the treatment process, but no single approach is superior. Instead, Ohio addiction treatment centers rely on multiple methodologies which include one-on-one counseling, group therapy and behavioral services. This provides a well-rounded approach that can tackle all of the underlying factors that contribute to addiction.