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Ohio Drug Recovery Experts Warn Against Sending Addicts To Jail

opioids and prescription medicine bottle

Drug addiction counselors are speaking out against a bill that would send ex-convicts to jail if they fail a drug test. They say this proposal uses the judicial system to solve a health-care crisis.

Lori Criss of Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Service Providers says the bill that proposes 30 days in jail when someone on probation tests positive for heroin is a step in the wrong direction.

“It’s a very delicate time in their life. It would be like someone who has a heart problem going into cardiac arrest, having a heart attack. This is a crisis situation for them and their physical health, and we need to surround them with health care for that," says Criss, who advocates for behavioral health services.

Rep. Niraj Antani's bill, HB 457, includes language for treatment, but the concern is that a program wouldn’t have openings and that person would be sent to jail instead.

The bill's supporters say the threat of jail would cut off drug use before a possible deadly overdose.