In talks with mental health and addiction services professionals, U. S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said social distancing and stay-at-home orders are increasing overdose death in his state.
Part of a series of conference calls Portman has had with employers, hospitals, health care providers, small business owners, and workers to discuss the impact coronavirus is having in the state.
Portman’s call with the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities centered around what kinds of impact social distancing and other responses to combat COVID-19 are having on alcohol, drug addiction, and mental health.
“I appreciated the opportunity to speak with representatives of the county alcohol, drug addiction, and mental health boards across Ohio yesterday about how the coronavirus health crisis is impacting the addiction crisis in Ohio,” Portman said. “In Ohio, we’ve made great strides over the past few years with a 22 percent reduction in deadly drug overdoses in 2018. However, it’s clear the current coronavirus crisis is having an impact. Last week, Montgomery County officials reported 37 overdoses in March, the highest monthly total in three years. There have been other reports of increases in overdoses across Ohio, including 13 overdoses in 48 hours in Columbus last week. This is devastating.”
Portman said the federal response to the coronavirus crisis was to expand telehealth options for telehealth treatment of opioid use disorder by cutting red tape and to increase the ways recovery patients could access their opioid treatment providers.
“My hope is that once it is safe to begin to unwind the social distancing policies and return to a degree of normalcy, that our addiction specialists can treat their patients in person again,” Portman said.