Opioid Epidemic: More funding on the way, but how did we get to - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Opioid Epidemic: More funding on the way, but how did we get to this point?

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown made a stop in Youngstown last week to announce that the federal government will be sending new funding to Ohio and the Mahoning Valley to help combat the opioid epidemic.

Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lee's tells 21 News that while the money is desperately needed for treatment and more boots on the ground, he feels there's a missing piece to the addiction puzzle.  How did we get to this point?

Senator Brown stood in the Youngstown Police roll call room with YPD Chief Robin Lees and Austintown addiction specialist Ruth Bowdish.  He announced that $3-billion in federal funding will soon be distributed nationwide to help combat what's become a national health crisis.

"Ohio is number two in per capita opioid addiction to West Virginia.  We're number one in the number of deaths.  So when we set a priority that the states that are the hardest hit get the first dollars and get the most dollars it means Ohio is spoken for in a big way. It means we'll be at the front of the line for funding," Senator Brown said.

Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees, who has spent most of his law enforcement career in drug enforcement, said the funding will be critical to help with treatment and in fact, he would like to even see treatment extended to 90 days.  The funding will also help with the purchase of Narcan in some communities, and if possible put more officers on the street to fight this war on drugs.

"But you know I saw the first heroin come into the area in the late 90s when it really took off.  I think there really is a sociological thing to look at here; as far as the addiction issue," Chief Lees said.

He questions how and when did society head down this path.  The overdose victims continue to be of all age ranges and all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Chemical Dependency Counselor Ruth Bowdish is disturbed by seeing the deadly drug fentanyl cut with other narcotics like heroin and cocaine.

"So individuals may come in for a drug screen thinking they've used one substance and are very surprised themselves by what's in their drug screen which is very scary," Bowdish said.

Scary times as law enforcement, treatment specialists and lawmakers work together to use the new funding to stop a killer addiction with no end in sight.

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