Before the House Opiate Addiction Treatment & Reform Subcommittee
April 30, 2014
Chairman Smith and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you this afternoon as a proponent of HB501.
My name is Marcie Seidel. I am the executive director of Drug Free Action Alliance a statewide certified prevention agency in existence for more than 27 years. Its mission is to lead the way in promoting healthy lives through the prevention of substance abuse and its related problems.
My attire today is not proper protocol for testifying before this distinguished body, but I intentionally left it on to visually bring home the point that standing out front on the Statehouse steps are 1,800 drug free youth from all over Ohio, who are here to let their voices be heard that they are the Majority.
The majority of our youth do not use alcohol or drugs. They are motivated, talented and accomplished young people. The focus too often goes to those who have not made the right choices and as a society we spend much time, energy and resources dealing with the resulting problems.
I am incredibly proud and honored that Drug Free Action Alliance oversees this Ohio Youth Led Prevention Network. The youth lead the efforts and this rally was their idea three years ago and this is their third rally. They plan it and lead it. It is based in the science of peer to peer prevention which is one of the most solid and effective forms of keeping young people substance free.
Drug Free Action Alliance works collaboratively in a science-based approach throughout the entire state to educate and make environmental changes that result in reduced substance use and abuse.
I am here today to publicly support HB501. One might question how adding Zohydro to the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances supports our prevention efforts.
Effective prevention is a combination of education and changing the environment to support positive behavior choices. Education results in individual change, one person at a time. Environmental change results in population based change.
In the science of environmental prevention, reducing the access and availability of harmful substances is one of the four environmental factors that can drive positive change.
After researching this drug, we understand that Zohydro has a high potential for abuse when used incorrectly and does not have tamper-proof technology, two concerns that could bring about addiction and possibly death in individuals who are taking this drug.
The harder we make it to obtain this highly addictive substance the more likely we will be at preventing it from becoming another abused substance.
Some times that abuse is intentional – sometimes it is not.
We work with the Ohio G.A.P. Network of Family Engagement Groups, a network of families who have personally been touched by the opiate crisis and now focus on preventing opiate abuse through their efforts.
We learn from them of stories of loved ones who became hooked because of the prescribed medications
One story is about a young man named Alex. Alex served three tours in Iraq and during that last tour, Alex was injured badly when a roadside IED exploded while traveling from his base camp. Alex had injuries to his back, head, legs and arm and, after extensive rehab, was sent home.
To help manage the pain during rehab, Alex was prescribed a variety of opiates by physicians at the Veterans Administration. Because Alex was overprescribed these pills, he became addicted and after three years on these medications, the doctor decided to stop prescribing to Alex. Alex could not stop his addiction and began getting the pills from a variety of other doctors, as well as from street dealers.
After another few years of struggling with addiction, Alex finally received treatment and was in recovery for over two years. With a new lease on life, Alex and his wife worked to rebuild their lives and eventually Alex’s wife found out she was pregnant and Alex was thrilled.
During his wife’s pregnancy, Alex relapsed after a bout of pain that had originated from his injuries from years before. Alex quickly slid back down into his old life of addiction and left his family, with our agency not hearing from him since.
These types of medications can prove dangerous and destructive and even when a person does not die from their addiction, their lives are forever altered. I ask that as you consider this legislation, you also think of Alex, this hero who gave himself to his country, only to find his greatest battle happening back at home.
Prevention works and this proposed legislation is prevention.
Again, thank you for allowing me to testify before you today and I would be happy to answer any questions that you might have.