Ohio may get $26 million to fight heroin epidemic: What's next?

CINCINNATI -- The state of Ohio could get up to $26 million over the next two years to help battle the heroin epidemic, but what does that mean locally? 

Congress passed the 21st Century CURES Act, which was signed by President Obama in December. Included was $1 billion in grants to help states fight opioid abuse.

It will be up to the state of Ohio to decide how the money will be allocated based on requests from county boards.

MORE: Is Ohio doing enough to fight heroin addiction? 

Local addiction expert Clifford Cabansage said the money could help with rehabilitation and medication-assisted therapy like Suboxone or Vivitrol. 

“That money can go a long way, and keep in mind too money spent in treatment we can save on the other side,” Cabansage said.

“The other side” is the part of the plan that focuses on prevention. While the monitoring of prescription pain medication has increased, and police have removed more heroin from the streets, heroin overdoses deaths continue to rise.

Drug overdose deaths have increased by 72 percent since 2011. (That's not counting the number of deaths in 2016. Those figures have not been released yet by the Department of Health.)

Joshua Johnson, clinical director of Addiction Services Council, said  opioid use disorders in the Tri-State have skyrocketed over the last four to five years.

In order to alleviate the problem, seeking treatment must be easier for addicts, Cabansage said.

“As long as it remains more convenient to use than it is to get treatment this problem will persist,” Cabansage said. 

WCPO's Dave Holthaus contributed to this report. 

Click here for WCPO's complete coverage of heroin in the Tri-State. 

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