There has been much discussion today about the drug problem. Most seem to want to focus on treating those with addiction. While treatment is very important, I hear very little about slowing or stopping the opioid problem, so we have less people who need treatment. There is no question we have some deeply troubling situations occurring. But why don’t talk more about prevention, so less Ohioans need expensive and reoccurring treatment?
I was asked to speak on a drug panel in Logan County this past week, and I want to share with you three situations I have identified as areas of improvement.
• Border Control. We know that most of the drugs are flowing into Ohio from Mexico. There is almost a direct line from the border, through El Paso and into Columbus and Dayton. Dealers hide drugs in car seats, fire extinguishers and hairspray cans, so the drugs are very difficult to trace. It would seem common sense to have a strong border patrol that includes drug sniffing dogs and other technology. Inspecting each person and car coming across the border should be paramount. Our politicians talk about wanting to solve this issue, but they never talk about the source point from where it comes and how to stop that. If the drugs are harder to find on our streets, we simply would have less folks experimenting with or turning to drugs, which would lead to less drugs dealers, drug cartels, broken families and crime.
• Government, Drug Companies, the FDA and Prescriptions. In Ohio, prescription opioids have killed more folks than heroin from 1999 to 2014. OxyContin, made by Purdue Pharmaceuticals, released an extended release version in the mid-1990s. They packed lots of drugs into one pill. Drug dealers soon learned that ‘smashing or chewing’ pills could release more of the narcotic load at once. The company pled guilty to felony misbranding, and paid $600 million in fines in 1996. In 2010, they brought out a reformulated OxyContin, and now, the Sackler family, the sole owners, suddenly show on the Forbes America’s richest families list.
Is the FDA truly making sure drugs are safe for the public? Research shows that three-quarters of heroin addicts started out using prescription opioids. Prescription opioids, including OxyContin and Vicodin, are potent painkillers, because of the way they alter a patient’s brain chemistry to dampen the feeling of pain. Opioids also play with the brain’s reward system, which makes them highly addictive.
• Breakdown of the Family. The drug problem is not new. We have had rock bands singing about drugs as early as one can remember. Nancy Reagan had the “Just Say No” campaign in the ‘8os. So what has changed? Might it be that 48 percent of all children today are born without a father at home? Might it be that divorce and broken families are at an all-time high? The Judeo-Christian model of 5,000 years shows us that the smallest form of government is a father, mother and their children. Society today has rejected the nuclear family, and it is now experimenting with it by creating various types of “modern” families. We no longer have stable home relationships where kids can grow and flourish. As a former foster parent, I have witnessed this great tragedy. We need moms and dads providing discipline when their kid is misbehaving, and teaching their children self-discipline through love. How many folks have given their kid a smartphone without a filter which can display all types of pornography, which then leads to the trafficking of women and fuels drug use? The best person to keep a kid out of trouble, is a loving and present mother and father who can guide and form their child’s young mind and conscience.
The solution to the drug epidemic in Ohio will be complex, but I have offered some steps to find it. We need to eliminate the availability of drugs by controlling out boarders. We need to better vet the prescriptions we allow to be used medicinally. We need strong, stable and disciplined homes, led by the love of a mother and a father. The time is upon us where the state and taxpayer grow tired of the never ending cost of treatment and there is simply no money left. Let us talk solutions now so we can save the pain of many lost lives in our society.
Nino Vitale is the State Representative for Champaign and parts of Shelby and Logan Counties. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-466-1507.