The United States has been fighting a “war on drugs” since the Nixon era.
Yesterday, Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said the fight probably will never end in Ohio and now is the time to start calling it something else.
“A lot of people talk about the reference to end drug abuse as an armed conflict because it’s a war on drugs,” Portman said during his keynote speech at the 2013 Ohio Opiate Conference. “I think it’s the wrong way to think of it. I think that in part because millions of our co-workers, our families and others suffer from addiction disorder, and it’s not really a war, it’s more a public- safety, public-health issue.”
Last week the state released data showing that Ohio suffered a record 1,765 drug-overdose deaths in 2011, the most recent data available. An Ohioan died every five hours from a drug overdose that year.
While applauding continued law-enforcement efforts to stem drug use — Portman was speaking specifically about prescription drug abuse — he said it’s “very difficult to deal with this issue unless you are doing it in a holistic way.”
“But if you can deal with it at the top end of the problem, before people get addicted, boy, the cost savings are incredible,” Portman said.