Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Ohio Team Addressing Opioid Epidemic Continues Work

Image of the cover of the RJOI Common Language Glossary

A glossary defining addiction-related terms has been compiled by Ohio’s RJOI team to help courts and treatment professionals “speak the same language.”

Image of the cover of the RJOI Common Language Glossary

A glossary defining addiction-related terms has been compiled by Ohio’s RJOI team to help courts and treatment professionals “speak the same language.”

The Ohio team within a regional group addressing the opioid crisis met last week to identify state programs that target the crisis and gaps where more help may be needed.

The gathering included 19 state and local organizations and a national partner that together form Ohio’s team in the eight-state Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative (RJOI).

Ohio participants are considering several priority areas as they move forward, including continued enhancements and access to Ohio’s prescription drug monitoring program (called OARRS) for courts with specialized dockets, treatment access using teleservices, infants with prenatal substance exposure, naloxone access and distribution, and stigma reduction.

“Ohio’s team is breaking down silos to develop a coordinated approach to the opioid epidemic on a number of important fronts,” said Steven Schierholt, executive director of the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy and a team participant. “I am proud of the work we have already accomplished and am confident we can make lasting improvements to the health and well-being of communities across Ohio.”

“Judges and court administrators recognize that we need to be a part of the solution,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said. “Knowledge really is power in this endeavor. Knowledge can provide the power to push out – and overcome – old thinking, prejudices, and ideas that don’t work or no longer work. We must continue to share and compare our successes and failures, marshal our resources, and create new approaches.”

Addiction Glossary Developed
As part of its effort to lessen the stigma around drug addiction, the Ohio team has crafted a glossary of addiction-related terms. The “Common Language Glossary,” which includes approximately 50 terms, uses reputable sources from the medical and addiction fields. The definitions emphasize addiction as a brain disease and reflect a philosophy of acceptance of those struggling with these destructive, sometimes lethal, addictions.

“When individuals are arrested for drug-related offenses, we frequently discover that the primary problem is untreated addiction,” said Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director of Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services and Ohio team member. “Collaboration between courts and treatment providers is essential to meet this goal, yet we have come to realize we have different terminologies that can impair our ability to communicate effectively. The Governor’s Cabinet Opioid Action Team (GCOAT) and RJOI have worked together to develop this common glossary so providers and courts can communicate better and ‘speak the same language’ when working with people involved in both of our systems.”

Organizations Participating in Ohio Group
Ohio’s team is made up of these state agencies, courts, local entities, and universities:

  • Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission
  • Ohio Department of Education
  • Ohio Department of Health
  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
  • Ohio Department of Medicaid
  • Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
  • Ohio Department of Public Safety
  • Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
  • State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy
  • Clermont County Juvenile Court
  • Licking County Common Pleas Court
  • Mahoning County Common Pleas Court
  • Montgomery County Juvenile Court
  • Supreme Court of Ohio
  • Franklin County Public Defender’s Office
  • Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office
  • ADAMH Board of Franklin County
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • University of Cincinnati

The team also has a national partner, the Casey Family Programs.

The Regional Initiative
RJOI is a regional partnership of courts, policymakers, medical and behavioral health providers, and child-welfare and criminal justice organizations from eight states that joined forces in 2016 to build a cross-disciplinary approach to deal with the opioid epidemic.

The eight states are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Chief Justice O’Connor convened 150 designated delegates, including several national partners, for RJOI’s first meeting in August 2016 in Cincinnati. The initiative has become a national model for cross-state and cross-discipline cooperation in addressing the crisis.

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