Portman seeks drug solutions at local roundtable discussion

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) meets with local leaders and health care officials at OneFifteen, an outpatient addiction facility and sober living campus in Dayton,  for a roundtable discussing the opioid epidemic on Friday, July 15. SAMANTHA WILDOW\STAFF

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U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) meets with local leaders and health care officials at OneFifteen, an outpatient addiction facility and sober living campus in Dayton, for a roundtable discussing the opioid epidemic on Friday, July 15. SAMANTHA WILDOW\STAFF

DAYTON — U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) hosted a roundtable discussion on the nation’s drug crisis Friday, talking with community leaders, state representatives, and health care officials at local addiction treatment provider OneFifteen.

Portman toured the facility and met with a number of clients living on the campus of OneFifteen’s sober living facility.

“Some of them are working part-time now. Some of them are getting back with their family now, getting back on their feet after having gone through, in many cases, different programs that didn’t work for them,” Portman said. “This program seems like it is really based on good, evidence-based treatment that is actually working for people.”

This was Portman’s third visit to OneFifteen. The facility was launched by Google life sciences affiliate Verily, and was named in memory of the 115 people who died each day from opioid overdoses in 2016. OneFifteen offers outpatient addiction services, as well as sober living apartments in Dayton.

At the roundtable, Dr. Leslie Dye, assistant medical director at OneFifteen, emphasized this is a “bipartisan disease.” She said COVID-19 both drew focus from the opioid epidemic and worsened it by moving people away from addiction services resources. She said many of the resources put in place to respond to COVID could be applied to the opioid epidemic.

“Why didn’t we do this for the opioid epidemic?” Dye said.

That rate of overdose deaths has generally continued to rise. In Ohio, 2020 passed 2017 as the highest year for unintentional drug overdose deaths with 5,017 deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health. This was a 3% increase over 2017 and a 25% increase over 2019.

Nationally, provisional data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics estimate that drug overdose deaths in the U.S. surpass 100,000 deaths annually.

“We were making great progress only a few years ago before COVID hit and it was because we were doing more prevention, more treatment, more recovery,” Portman said. Now, overdoses have been back on the rise due to challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Portman emphasized addressing both the demand for illegal substances by getting people involved in treatment, as well as discussed how drugs are coming into the country.

OneFifteen received almost $1.1 million in federal funding through the CARES Act. On Friday, Portman and other officials showed support for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 3.0. This is the third version of funding — the first of which was passed in July 2016.

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