The ongoing battle against substance abuse has created grim headlines in the state of Ohio. But, progress is being made in the buckeye state. Recently, Ohio is allocating grant money in order to fund additional substance use recovery programs. In addition, the AMA is reminding healthcare providers that addiction is a treatable condition.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the state is providing $7.5 million in grant funding to support the expansion of specialized court programs. This program will focus on recovery from substance use or related mental health conditions.
These grants for substance abuse and addiction treatment were proposed by the governor back in March 2019. At this time, the proposal requested that the state should allocate $200 million on new initiatives aimed at addiction and mental health.
Governor DeWine proposed these grants as part of his RecoveryOhio initiative. This act was done through an executive order and will guide the state’s efforts to address the ongoing crisis of drug addiction and mental illness.
The grant of $7.5 million will create specialized court dockets that provides judges more flexibility during the sentencing for drug-related crimes. Judges will now have the ability to place defendants, with mental health or substance use disorders, into treatment programs rather than sentencing them to jail.
The grants are awarded through the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS). They are fully funded through Ohio’s 2020-2021 operating budget. Any court that is not currently receiving specialized docket or drug court grant funding can apply.
The new funding will expand the existing partnerships between the court system and treatment agencies. The goal is to increase accountability while improving people’s health. There is also a hope that the use of addiction treatment programs will reduce the number of people sent to the state’s correctional system. The goal is to encourage and promote treatment as well as recovery instead of penalties like jail time.
The awarding of this grant money is of particular interest for many regions in the state of Ohio. From Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) in the north to Hamilton County (Cincinnati) in the south, many communities have struggled with addiction and overdose problems. The grant money is a welcomed addition to the fight against drug and alcohol addiction.
The grant funding can be used for payroll costs, clinical services provided by state-certified addiction and/or mental health providers, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) medications, urinalysis, and recovery supports.
On separate but related note, the American Medical Association (AMA) reminded physicians and health professionals that substance use disorder is a treatable disease. The AMA is working to develop educational materials that are non-judgmental towards addiction and behavioral health programs. Mental health information should encourage the appropriate use of clinically accurate and non-stigmatizing terminology. All physicians and U.S. health care facilities are encouraged to use this non-stigmatizing language.
The AMA states that when physicians or other health professionals exhibit negative attitudes aimed at substance-use disorders, it is often linked to reduced empathy and engagement with their patients. These harmful attitudes also impact the delivery of evidence-based treatment services and help to create negative patient outcomes.
The negative attitudes towards addiction treatment are part of the larger stigma that still persists in the field of behavioral health. This stigma sometimes prevents people from seeking the help that they need.
The AMA states that substance-use disorder is recognized as a treatable disease, yet only 6.9 percent of 20.1 million Americans receive treatment for the condition. This is something that needs to change. The language associated with substance-use disorders influences the attitudes among many health professionals. Especially as to how they view their patients with addiction issues and other mental health conditions. The new language recommendations are as follows:
- For substance use and addiction, use clinically accurate, non-stigmatizing terminology such as substance-use disorder, substance misuse, recovery, negative/positive urine screen, etc.
- Discourage the use of stigmatizing terms including substance abuse, alcoholism, clean and dirty.
The state of Ohio is pushing to meet the healthcare demands of the 21st century. The state already has a significant amount of healthcare insurance companies, pharmaceutical and medical innovations. But, the state also has a substantial need for treatment and recovery programs. The governor’s grant is a step in the right direction to solve this problem.
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