Prescription drug abuse and opioid addiction have grown too large for one state to handle. Now, six chief justices across the Midwest and Appalachian region are banding together to confront this crisis.
The Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative (RJOI) is a collaborative effort between Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee. Unfortunately for many citizens of these states, the initiative borders on too late.
Kentucky is third on the list in deaths by drug overdose per 100,000 people. Ohio is fourth. Meanwhile, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan are three of the 27 states that see between 15 and 20 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents.
However, the true tragedy is the effect that prescription drug abuse has on the children of addicts. In 2013, Tennessee recorded 912 instances of drug-dependent babies. Over 40% of these children were born to mothers who took painkillers.
In the same year, more Tennesseans died from drug overdoses than car accidents, homicides, or suicide.
Until the RJOI, children who were orphaned or became wardens of the state were placed into the foster system – regardless of willing grandparents living just across state lines.
The initiative emphasizes cooperation between the six participating states. Databases housing opioid prescription information will be opened and shared, while addiction experts certified in one state will be legally allowed to practice in another.
InRecovery offers a database of addiction rehabilitation and treatment centers in all 50 states. If you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid or other addiction, please do not wait to seek professional help.