We have heard too many tragic stories about families who have lost a loved one, with their entire life ahead of them, due to what started as prescription drug abuse. The most recent data available shows unintentional drug overdose has continued to be the leading cause of injury-related death in Ohio, ahead of motor vehicle traffic crashes.

In response to this growing epidemic, Governor John Kasich created the Governor's Cabinet Opiate Action Team to attack opiate abuse on every front. The Action Team is comprised of several state agencies that work together to combat opiate abuse by making a difference in each of their respective areas of influence.

Since the creation of program, the state has made it more difficult to traffic drugs, decreased the number of opioids prescribed, informed Ohioans on how to talk to their children about drugs, and expanded treatment for those who fall victim to opioid abuse. While the state has made progress in the fight against opiate abuse, there is still more to be done to ensure every Ohioan has the opportunity to fulfill their potential. Please explore this website to learn more about Ohio’s efforts to combat opiate abuse.

Ohio's Fight Against Drugs

  • Created the Governor's Opiate Action Team
  • Shut down pill mills
  • Stepping up enforcement efforts
  • Opiate prescribing guidelines for physicians
  • Empowering prescribers and pharmacists to prevent opiate abuse
  • Increasing mental health and addiction care through Medicaid
  • Treating addiction in Ohio's prisons
  • StartTalking!
  • Access to Naloxone
  • $1 billion invested this year
  • S.B. 319

Fighting the Drug Epidemic

As states struggle with the epidemic of drug abuse and addiction, Ohio has been working for six years develop an agile, comprehensive and community-centered plan of action.


Interdiction by law enforcement is a necessary intervention in combatting the opioid epidemic. Yet, the opiate issue is one of the more complex drug challenges that law enforcement has ever faced. Coordination across jurisdictions and with regulatory boards is a critical step.

  • 2011: Gov. Kasich signs HB 93 into law to shut down "pill mill" pain clinics that fuel Ohio's opiate crisis.
  • 2011: The Ohio Highway Patrol reports that it seized more than 38,000 prescription pills and 16,400 grams of heroin in calendar year 2011.
  • 2012: Ohio hosts first statewide Opiate Summit, drawing more than 1,000 addiction, law enforcement, policy and medical professionals.
  • 2012: The Ohio Highway Patrol reports that it seized more than 39,900 prescription pills and 34,800 grams of heroin in calendar year 2012.
  • 2013: A partnership with local law enforcement is strengthened by investing $3 million in behavioral health programs through local jails to reduce recidivism.
  • 2013: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine establishes the Attorney General's Heroin Unit, which assists local law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting upper-level drug traffickers in Ohio.
  • 2013: The Ohio Highway Patrol reports that it seized more than 54,200 prescription pills and 46,200 grams of heroin in calendar year 2013.
  • 2014: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine awards more than $500,000 to law enforcement in Allen County to combat the flow of heroin along I-75.
  • 2014: The Ohio Attorney General's Office launches Heroin Recognition and Investigation Training for law enforcement through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.
  • 2014: The Ohio Highway Patrol reports that it seized more than 37,900 prescription pills and 14,100 grams of heroin in calendar year 2014.
  • 2011-2014: The State Medical Board of Ohio and the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, working in conjunction with the Ohio Attorney General's Office, revokes the licenses of 61 doctors and 15 pharmacists for violations involving improper prescribing or dispensing of prescription drugs.
  • 2015: The Office of Criminal Justice Services contributes $100,000 to the Heroin Partnership Project, a collaborative effort of federal, state and local agencies focused on reducing heroin and opiate overdose deaths in Ross County.
  • 2015: The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy trains local law enforcement agencies on how to conduct drug overdose investigations, including the use of the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System.

To help prevent youth drug use before it starts, Gov. Kasich launched Start Talking! in January 2014. Start Talking! is Ohio's statewide youth drug prevention initiative that brings together proven prevention strategies to promote the importance of having drug-free conversations with our youth. Research shows that children whose parents or other trusted adults talk with them about the risks of drugs are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs. Start Talking! features three components designed to provide parents, teachers, guardians and community leaders with simple tools to get the conversation started: Know!, Parents360-Rx, and 5 Minutes for Life. Visit the Start Talking! website at starttalking.ohio.gov for details.

  • 2013-14: More than 16,500 high school student-athletes participate in 5 Minutes for Life sessions held before or after practice, during which Ohio state troopers, local law enforcement officers and National Guard members talk about responsible decision-making, leadership and encouraging their peers to live a drug-free lifestyle.
  • 2014: An additional 6,400 parents, teachers and employers sign up for Know! tips and TEACHable Moments with a total reach of more than 40,000 as a result of organizations sharing the information. They join a subscriber base of more than 60,000.
  • 2014-15: More than 17,700 student-athletes participate in Minutes for Life sessions held before or after practices.
  • 2014-2015: Start Talking! awards 22 grants totaling $1.5 million to communities to help strengthen school- based prevention and resiliency programming for at-risk youth.
  • 2014: An overview of Start Talking! was presented to approximately 500 nurses at three ODH Regional School Nurse Conferences.
  • 2014: Gov. Kasich signs HB 367 into law, requiring school districts to provide education about prescription medication and opiate abuse.
  • The Ohio Department of Health releases results of the Ohio Youth Risk Behavior Survey which indicates a 50 percent decrease in the number of Ohio teens who used a prescription painkiller without a doctor's prescription.
  • 2015: The 5 Minutes for Life program is expanded and now available year round.
  • 2015: Start Talking! is displayed at ODH's annual New School Nurse Orientation.

Ohio officials have worked diligently with the medical community to find the right balance between making sure pain interventions are available to patients who need it while taking important steps to limit the number of opioid prescription medications that diverted and sold on the street for illicit use.

  • 2011: The Governor's Cabinet Opiate Action Team develops low dose protocol for buprenorphine and Suboxone.
  • 2012: The Ohio Attorney General's Office, the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and Drug Free Action Alliance launch the Ohio Prescription Drug Drop Box Program by providing secure disposal bins to more than 60 law enforcement agencies.
  • 2012: The Governor's Cabinet Opiate Action Team rolls out opioid prescribing guidelines for emergency room and acute care facilities.
  • 2013: The Governor's Cabinet Opiate Action Team introduces prescribing guidelines for Ohio's opioid prescribers for safe management of chronic, non-terminal pain.
  • 2014: ODH provides seed funding for local prescription drug overdose prevention projects in Cuyahoga County, Clermont County and the City of Portsmouth with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The projects include coalition development, healthcare prescriber education and healthcare system changes for safer prescribing practices.
  • 2014: The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy adopts rules authorizing pharmacies to accept unused or expired prescription controlled substances from the public.
  • 2014: The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy receives a $386,000 federal grant to make enhancements to improve the use of the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System.
  • 2014: The number of prescription opiates dispensed to Ohio patients in 2014 decreased by more than 40 million doses compared to 2013.
  • 2014: The number of individuals "doctor shopping" for opiates decreased from more than 3,100 in 2009 to approximately 960 in 2014, according to data from the State Board of Pharmacy's Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS).
  • 2014: To improve care to our veterans and reduce prescription drug abuse, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy completed a project that allows the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to report all prescription controlled substances dispensed from their Ohio facilities to the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS).
  • 2014: An analysis of OARRS data shows a 10.8 percent reduction in the number of Ohio patients receiving prescription opiates (excluding Suboxone) at doses greater than the 80 mg Morphine Equivalent Daily Dose since the establishment of Ohio's opiate prescribing guidelines in October 2013.
  • 2015: Governor's Cabinet Opiate Action Team releases a Health Resource Toolkit for healthcare providers to address opioid abuse.
  • 2015: Use of the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System by opioid prescribers continued to increase. In the second quarter of 2015, OARRS receives more than 2.2 million queries by prescribers compared to 156,289 for the same quarter in 2010.
  • 2015: The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy provides healthcare regulatory boards with the names of more than 15,500 clinicians who violated Ohio laws by prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines and not checking the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System.
  • 2015: Prescription Drug take-back targeted at state employees nets more than 100 pounds of unused, expired, unwanted prescription medications (roughly 95,000 pills).
  • 2015: The Governor's Cabinet Opiate Action Team prepares to launch guidelines for the management of acute pain outside the hospital emergency department setting. The guidelines address treatment without drugs, non-opioid drug treatment and safe opioid drug treatment. Pending
  • 2015: CDC selects Ohio among 16 states to receive between $750,000-$1 million a year over four years to combat prescription drug overdoses. The funding is to be used to enhance prescription drug monitoring programs; educate providers and patients about the risks of prescription drug overdose; work with healthcare systems, insurers and healthcare professionals to help them make informed decisions when prescribing pain medication; and respond to new and emerging drug overdose issues.
  • 2015: U.S. Department of Justice selects the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy to receive a $200,000 grant to develop new OARRS educational and training resources for healthcare schools, colleges and residency programs. Saving Lives by Expanding Access to Overdose Antidote Ohio has taken steps to prevent drug overdose deaths through the expanded availability and use of the overdose reversal drug naloxone. Ohio's naloxone efforts also serve to educate persons who are addicted on available treatment options.

Making sure that Ohioans have access to treatment – including Medication-Assisted Treatment in combination with traditional counseling – along with key recovery supports such as stable housing, employment services, relapse prevention and more has been a critical focus in Ohio.

  • 2011: Gov. Kasich signs Executive Order authorizing the expanded use of Medication-Assisted Treatment (buprenorphine, vivitrol, methadone) in responding to the state's opiate crisis.
  • 2012: Ohio Medicaid introduces coverage of Medication-Assisted Treatment services.
  • 2012: The Mid-Biennium Budget Review includes $3 million for opiate addiction treatment.
  • 2012: The Office of the Governor awards $2.1 million to Ohio's children's hospitals to fund several research projects. Of that total, $1 million was set aside for the development of a standardized treatment protocol for addressing neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in newborns.
  • 2013: The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services receives a $10 million federal grant to support implementation of a screening and wellness tool for physicians called SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment). SBIRT also becomes a billable service under Ohio Medicaid.
  • 2013: New Southern Ohio Addiction Treatment Center is established in Jackson County, addressing a gap in local services for individuals who are opioid-dependent.
  • 2014: Extension of Medicaid coverage in Ohio begins, making addiction treatment services available to more individuals.
  • 2014: The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services partners with Ohio Medicaid to launch the Maternal Opiate Medical Support (MOMS) pilot project to develop best practices for treating addicted mothers and for addressing neonatal abstinence syndrome among newborns.
  • 2014: The Mid-Biennium Budget Review includes funding for drug prevention, recovery housing, and drug courts.
  • 2014: The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services launches an Addiction Treatment Pilot Project to provide Medication-Assisted Treatment to drug court participants in six counties.
  • 2014: Gov. Kasich speaks to teams from across Ohio at a Judicial Symposium to encourage collaborative efforts to fight drug abuse and promote the drug court model.
  • 2014-15: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine awards a total of $800,000 to Lucas County to develop a pilot program aimed at helping those suffering from heroin addiction get the assistance they need to move towards recovery. The University of Toledo will study and evaluate the effectiveness of the program for its potential use as a model for recovery in other communities across the state.
  • 2015: The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services participated with the Ohio Highway Patrol in successful SHIELD details by helping connect drug users intercepted by law enforcement to treatment.
  • 2016-17: The state budget for the biennium calls for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and OhioMHAS to expand the availability of treatment within state prisons and upon release; to continue to invest in recovery housing; and provides additional funding to expand the Addiction Treatment Pilot Project to a total of 15 counties.