PORTSMOUTH – On Monday evening, the Portsmouth City Council voted 5-0 to advance legislation creating another 6-month moratorium on new addiction treatment facilities within city limits. The moratorium would prevent new facilities from opening, and give council time to collect and review data from the State of Ohio, including its overall addiction treatment strategy, and plans on funding, policy information, inspection and regulation rules, as well as needs based assessment.
“This issue is about more than just Scioto County or our region,” said Mayor and 1st Ward Councilman Sean Dunne. “Not very long ago, Governor DeWine stated Appalachia and mental health were near the top of his concerns.”
“We are asking for more data and a needs based assessment for our area. You can say we need more or less treatment options, but that’s not based on data. We want evidence based legislation and you can’t have that until (statewide) data is collected. Is it better for a person in Portsmouth to receive treatment in another county or city? How about for a person to come here? We don’t know because we haven’t been provided data on it. This moratorium publicly declares the general opinion of people here – 90% are against bad facilities.”
Dunne said there are still too many questions and statewide officials have not provided cities across the state with enough answers for them to create informed opinions. For months now, the public has been split on whether or not new treatment facilities should be allowed to operate in Portsmouth. Questions linger about where those in treatment come from and how well they are serviced by some providers. Others have remarked on how taxed services such as first responders and the court system has become as a result of the opioid epidemic and increased treatment options in Portsmouth.
“There us a lot we don’t know right now,” said Dunne. “When there was a lack of treatment beds in the State of Ohio, it was right to open up as many facilities as possible. Now, we are at the point that if people are in those beds we want them to get the best treatment and care possible.”
Dunne also slammed the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Services, who is responsible for addiction treatment data in the state.
“This is a group that is being criticized by municipalities, but also by addiction treatment facilities across Ohio…I’m not optimistic about what they will produce.”
CareSource Founder Jay Hash was in attendance, and asked council to table the ordinance.
“Scioto County is still in the middle of a serious problem with drug addiction,” said Hash. “We unfortunately lead the state in overdose deaths…its concerning to me council would want to consider a moratorium on addiction treatment facilities when we lead the state in overdose deaths. I encourage you to table this.”
Hash said the moratorium may keep him from moving or expanding his business one day.
“I wouldn’t be able to do that…HopeSource and other providers giving excellent treatment services are very much needed. And this moratorium could harm people’s access to much needed treatment.”