State can help fight drugs at local level

It is unlikely county officials will get from Columbus what they asked for this week. The general increase in funding to local governments being sought, more than $350 million a year, would dent the state budget to an extent legislators probably would not allow.

But one specific plea by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio ought to be heeded. It is for more state money to battle the drug abuse epidemic.

Members of the commissioners group requested changes Monday in a variety of local funding policies. Among them was to establish a massive state program to help counties cope with the substance addiction epidemic.

It is just that. Ohio has achieved a troubling distinction, the second-worst drug overdose death rate in the nation, at 39.1 per 100,000 people in 2016 (No. 1 is West Virginia, at 52).

Though local law enforcement agencies do a commendable job, their resources have been strained by the drug crisis. And their efforts are only part of the solution. More treatment options are needed for those trying to kick the drug habit.

County commissioners were wise in not specifying a dollar amount for the initiative they want — because no one knows how much it may take. The “hundreds of millions of dollars” cited may not be enough.

More help for local governments ought to be flowing from Washington. That failing — as it has — Ohio state officials need to do what they can to help cities and counties fight back against opioids and other illicit drugs. The cost of not doing that may be greater than what the commissioners are seeking.

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