Portman tackling drugs through amendment


Joseph Pratt

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The Senate is currently debating the many facets to the Every Child Achieves Act, which is a reform of the No Child Left Behind Act. With lawmaking that will change education from coast-to-coast, many politicians are offering their own opinions and footnotes into the bill.

Many of these amendments are from Ohio, most recently by Senator Rob Portman, who has offered an amendment to reauthorize and expand drug and violence prevention grants to include recovery support services to students in schools and communities working to overcome addiction.

Portman expressed much importance for the matter and even worked with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, of Rhode Island, making the amendment a bipartisan work effort.

“Preventing drug abuse and helping those who suffer from addiction is an issue that can break through partisan divides. Too often, our young people are on the front lines of dangerous drug use that can lead to addiction, and we need to do more to equip them as they choose a better path,” Portman said. “Addiction is a common enemy that everyone should be willing to fight. I am confident we can overcome these challenges if we take a comprehensive approach that starts on the local level – addressing this issue in our homes, schools, and communities.”

The Every Child Achieves Act authorizes grant programs to address drug abuse and violence prevention in schools and communities across the country. The grants are used for drug abuse prevention, early intervention, rehabilitation referral and efforts to raise awareness about the consequences of drug use.

This amendment adds recovery support services to help students in the recovery process from drug abuse and addiction.

The amendment would have a direct impact on local students, according to local professionals who deal in the field of chemical dependency.

“We would be really happy if more intervention could happen earlier in a person’s life,” Jay Hash, clinical director at the Counseling Center, said. “There are scientific studies correlating childhood use of alcohol and drugs to an increased likelihood of being addicted or dependent on alcohol or other drugs. The longer a person can delay their first experimentation with alcohol and drugs, it seems to correlate with lower addiction rates.”

With the importance of reaching students at the earliest age possible, Hash said that he agrees with Portman and believes the amendment would help local students.

“I think that the act and the amendment is spot on,” Hash said. “We need to at least begin a more aggressive approach to help these children make better choices, have more hope, and know about a future that doesn’t necessarily involve alcohol or drugs. There is an increasing void between some of the parents and the children. These children spend a lot of their time at school and it would be very beneficial to teach them about abstaining from these drugs while they are there.”

Hash said that he also believes in treating the problem for those students who are already having issues with drugs and alcohol.

“I think it is completely appropriate, just like any other healthcare issue that we would be concerned about, such as dental care or primary healthcare,” Hash said. “Substance abuse care needs to be given just as much care and attention as anything else and I think we could stand to do more of that.”

Portman and Whitehouse are also co-authors of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, which provides a series of incentives and resources designed to encourage states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies to combat addiction. This legislation includes provisions to expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers to prevent the abuse of drugs and to promote treatment and recovery.

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

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