One local drug counselor said addiction to opiates is one of the fastest growing drug epidemics and it’s killing people.
Steve Carrel said that a few years ago only 10-15 percent of their clients tested positive for opiates, that number is now up to 50-60 percent. As a state Ohio is one of the highest with unintentional opiate overdoses. The number reflects the fact that Ohio had pill mills and that the reporting system for medical professionals was not effective.
"Even though we had a reporting system for doctors and reporting prescription opiates it was a voluntary system," explained Carrel. "It wasn’t used a whole lot. Now it’s mandatory. Now we have emergency room protocol policies that have gone into effect."
Carrel said the numbers have gone down some with the closure of pill mills. While they are ready to treat opiate addiction funding is an issue. A third of the clients they serve at Muskingum Behavioral Health are working poor and that can effect treatment.
‘The lack of insurance is one of the problems people have in getting help for these problems. People that have jobs, people that have insurance are getting help but without insurance or Medicaid it’s really difficult," explained Carrel.
Carrel said that most opiates were painkillers prescribed by a doctor for a legitimate use, but that some people being to abuse the drugs by taking more than the dosage prescribed without talking to their doctor.