Our district has felt the impact of the devastating opioid crisis that is sweeping our nation. Being a rural community with many people struggling to make ends meet combined with factors such as but not limited to over prescribing, mental health issues, and a lack of resources, has created a perfect storm, an incubator causing a disproportionate impact on our area. With deaths, overdoses, crime, and arrests all on the rise we have to take bigger steps in addressing this crisis. In addition to what is already being done, it is time that we create a continuum of support past addiction and during recovery by providing individuals with treatment beyond the physical and into the mental addiction itself. We need to provide counseling to those in recovery so that their success can be seen long term. As a community we need to address the relationship between mental health and the opioid crisis and what leads people down the path to addiction in the first place. We do all of this by addressing the serious lack of mental health support in our area, from a lack of providers, to a lack of insurance for constituents. We save peer to peer programs like Fort Recovery from having their doors closed, and we open more treatment programs and facilities to support our fellow community members in their recovery.
This epidemic will be felt by our community for years to come as we have yet to see the full ramifications of this crisis. As a community we need to have a strategic plan to not only treat those currently struggling with addiction, but to also take measures to reduce the long term harm associated with this issue, such as the spread of infectious disease related to high risk behavior, and the early and continued care required for the children directly impacted by this crisis. Now is the time to carefully evaluate what the the full spectrum of needs may be and to begin planning accordingly. As the delegate to 1B I want to work in Annapolis to bring resources to our area to address all of these issues so no more families have to suffer the devastation caused by this epidemic. It is crucial to open a dialogue about what it will actually take going forward to address this fully and completely as it is so multi-faceted with long running consequences that we are just beginning to fully realize.