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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980000Day after day, week after week, the headlines in Northeast Ohio and across much of the country contain news of tragic loss: lives lost to opioids. It’s a problem that knows no bounds: geography, race, gender, level of education or income.The problem took on new urgency this summer as the powerful elephant sedative, Carfentanil, began hitting the streets. First responders armed with their only weapon, the overdose antidote Naloxone, have struggled to keep up with what’s become an overwhelming problem. It’s an issue that’s straining public and social resources. What has become clear is that business as usual is not going to fix the problem.WKSU news has been covering the unfolding crisis. Tuesdays during Morning Edition, the WKSU news team digs even deeper. WKSU reporters will examine what’s led us here and what might be done to turn the tide. Support for Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis comes from Wayne Savings Community Bank, Kent State University Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Hometown Grocery Delivery, Mercy Medical Center, AxessPointe Community Health Center, Community Support Services, Inc., Medina County District Library and Hudson Community First.00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980001

Ohio Has an $8.8 Billion a Year Opioid Problem; What Will President Trump's Declaration Do About It?

Lori Criss
WKSU public radio

Ohioans dealing with the addiction crisis had been hoping President Trump’s emergency declaration would direct new money to fight the opioid epidemic. As WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, new funding isn’t there. But redirecting job-training money is.

Trump’s declaration of a national public health emergency includes a shift in some unspecified federal grant funds and a ramping up of telemedicine to allow people to get prescriptions to addiction-fighting drugs without seeing a doctor in-person. It also opens up dislocated worker grants – job training funds for people who are laid off -- to go to those who can’t get jobs because of their addiction.

'There's great research on how having that purposeful activity is part of the recovery process and so it's really promising to think they might invest in that.'

Lori Criss of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers, says job-training isn’t incidental to addiction recovery and those funds have been lacking.

“There hasn’t really been an investment in that work-pathway for people recovering from substance abuse disorders, also there’s great research and guidance on how having that purposeful activity is part of the recovery process and so it’s really promising to think they might invest in that.”

But Criss says the key to dealing with the addiction crisis is to have the same kind of public-health response and insurance coverage as with other diseases such as cancer.

People with just high-school diplomas are 14 times more likely to die of drug overdoses than those with college degrees, according to a new study by Ohio State University.

Lori Criss of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers says the benefits of a higher-level of training makes sense.

Stability and addiction

“It sets people up for housing stability, relationship stability, economic stability and a better pathway in their communities and their life in general. And so having that job training, being connected to work and those meaningful activities creates a lot of opportunities in other part of their lives as well.”

A new study from Ohio State says the opioid epidemic is costing Ohio between $6.6 billion and $8.8 billion a year -- and yet the state has the capacity to treat less just 20 to 40 percent of those abusing opioids. 

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.