Ohio painkiller addictions on par with alcoholism

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CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (AP) — Addiction to painkillers in Ohio is now on par with alcoholism, according to recent state data reflecting a trend in substance abuse in the state.

Of more than 87,000 clients treated for addiction, 33 percent received alcohol addiction services and 32 percent received opiate addiction services in fiscal 2013, the most recent statewide data available, according to a report Monday by the Media Network of Central Ohio.

The 2013 figures, involving people who received publicly funded treatment, are up from 28 percent the previous year and more than double 2008 numbers.

Awareness brought on by increasing numbers of overdose deaths linked to opiates is prompting more addicts to seek treatment, said Juni Johnson, executive director of Paint Valley ADAMH.

"We've flooded the market over the last couple years with referrals and coordinated care for people with opiate addiction," Johnson said.

More than 1,900 Ohioans died from drug overdoses in 2012, the most recent statewide data available. Those numbers include prescription painkillers and heroin.

Two Ohio boards report most of their treatment agencies served people with painkiller addictions last year.

That includes the Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Board, which serves five southern Ohio counties, and people being served In Fairfield County.

Johnson said Medicaid expansion in Ohio could increase the numbers further.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services estimated 60,000 Ohioans with addiction or mental health needs could receive coverage through the expansion that took effect in January.

The expansion increased the income cutoff and changed eligibility criteria that typically blocked single, childless men and women from coverage.

With help from Medicaid expansion, Pickaway Area Recovery Services plans to expand its residential treatment model for women to men and open facilities in Pickaway and Fayette counties, said executive director Barry Bennett.

In 2013, an estimated 22.7 million Americans older than age 12 needed treatment for a drug or alcohol problem, but nearly nine of every 10 didn't get treatment, according the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. People who acknowledged needing treatment most often reported they did not get it because they couldn't afford it.

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