Senator Rob Portman visits Youngstown drug recovery center - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Senator Rob Portman visits Youngstown drug recovery center

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

Senator Rob Portman was in Youngstown Friday to talk about the heroin and prescription drug epidemic.

He was the author of the recently signed into law Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, also known as CARA.

Senator Portman visited the Neil Kennedy Recovery Center where he discussed the heroin and opioid epidemic with local community leaders and people who are currently in recovery.

The Senator wanted to know from those who work on the frontlines of the epidemic what's working and what's not working.  What is working is long term recovery but it's expensive and there are not enough beds available in Ohio.  

"That's what we need more of and that's going to require more funding and that's why the CARA legislation and the CURE legislation being implemented are going to help," said Portman.

One billion dollars in new funding was secured for state grants to fight opioid abuse.  And that money will help people get into programs like what Neil Kennedy offers.

Portman has also introduced legislation that would hopefully stop fentanyl from coming into the country in the first place.

"Our legislation simply says let's get at the problem here which is on the supply side which is it's coming through the mail system. Our U.S. mail system is not requiring the kind of information that the private carriers require and therefore the traffickers use our mail system to send this stuff and it's most made in China," said Portman.

Joseph Sitarik, Medical Director of Neil Kennedy, says the government needs to reduce restrictions on how many people can be helped by recovery centers at one time.

"We need to take off the limitation of 16 beds for Medicaid patients. Time and time again we have patients who are willing and ready to come to detox and there are no beds available," said Sitarik.

Senator Portman admits the government is slow to act when things are needed right away.  But he hopes the new laws and legislation will kick in soon to put a stop to this growing problem.

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