The epitome of an emergency

By one estimate, drug abuse claims an average of 11 lives each day in Ohio. A natural disaster — say, an emerging disease rampaging through the state — would be viewed as an emergency.

Many in law enforcement and state government treat substance abuse as such a threat. But structurally, state government lags behind.

Gov. John Kasich is being urged by a group of big-city mayors to change that. In a letter sent to the governor this week, the Ohio Mayors Alliance made several recommendations.

Among them are making better use of the Medicaid program to help addicts recover and improved coordination between and among local and state agencies battling the drug epidemic.

The mayors also want Kasich to establish a new emergency operations center dedicated solely to curbing substance abuse, with a new state director of drug policy. Officials are far from uninvolved now. The multipurpose state emergency operations center is at work around the clock, with much of its energy dedicated to the war against drugs. Several individual initiatives, including those by Attorney General Mike DeWine, have proved valuable.

But the mayors are right: Formally elevating the status of the war on drugs could help in a variety of ways. Kasich should give the proposal serious, immediate consideration.


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