Ohio is in the midst of a public health epidemic due to the dramatic increase in availability of opiate-based prescription painkiller medications and the abuse of these drugs for nonmedical purposes. A dramatic increase in prescribing over the past decade has brought these dangerous medications into the homes of the majority of Ohioans, averaging 67 pills for every man, woman, and child in the state. As a result, addiction to prescription pain medications and their chemical lookalike, heroin, is on the rise. Drug overdoses are also at an all-time high, averaging four deaths a day in Ohio with nearly 45 percent of them attributable to prescription drugs.
Under Governor John R. Kasich’s leadership, the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team (GCOAT) was established to address the continuing epidemic of misuse and abuse and overdose from prescription opioids. The GCOAT consists of five working groups: (1) Treatment--includes Medication Assisted Treatment; (2) Professional Education; (3) Public Education; (4) Enforcement; and (5) Recovery Supports. A number of state department directors lead these committees, and state department staff and representatives from various stakeholder organizations participate.