WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Two Ohio senators from the Valley were in Trumbull County on Friday, working to find solutions to the opioid crisis.
Senators Michael Rulli and Sean O’Brien met with staff from First Step Recovery Center in Warren to discuss the problem.
As they toured the center, one client said she needs this place.
“I’m tired of struggling to survive and I’m ready to learn to live,” she said.
The client, who asked not to be identified, is 26 and from Lake County. Her addiction started nine years ago in high school.
“I had a 3.8 GPA in school. You know, my mother had passed away, and so my grades started slipping and I started using.”
The senators said they are trying to help clients like this by piecing together new legislation aimed at getting patients the treatment they need. Directors with the First Step Recovery Center said 90% of their clients received Medicaid, so funding is crucial.
“Access to treatment is extremely important. How we pay for that is even more so,” said Cindy Woodford from the First Step Recovery Center.
Directors stress that clients need to be held accountable as well. They pointed to local drug courts in the area where participants who succeed have their records cleared, while those who don’t face prison time.
“Overall success rate has been high. We recognize that and we see that it works, and we’re going to continue to build on those,” O’Brien said.
The client said she finished a prison sentence for drugs in April and entered rehab, fearing she would start using again. She said this center has helped more than others since many of her counselors are recovering addicts themselves.
“They are living proof that there is a way out, that they are living a better life,” she said.
Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate are working on bills to reform drug laws.
With lawmakers hoping to pass a bill this fall, the client wishes to leave this month and continue her sobriety.