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Portman focusing on addiction

Senator pushes energy efficiency, touts Kasich

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has been focusing heavily this week on the issue of opiate addiction in Ohio.

On Monday, Portman met with residents of Jody’s House, a residential home in Marion for women recovering from heroin addiction.

In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Portman said the visit was important, as it helps him to find out “what is and isn’t working” as far as helping addicts to get treatment and recover.

Portman touted legislation he has authored, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which he said is designed to allocate new resources to address the problem. The bill, if passed, calls for evidence-based testing to expand treatment, as well as an increase in educational efforts aimed at teens, parents and caretakers on drug prevention.

“There’s a federal role here,” Portman said. “The federal government can be a partner on this.”

Portman said that addiction leads to more crime, broken families and keeps people from realizing their potential.

“This is a huge issue,” he said.

Portman also spoke of concerns regarding the overprescription of pain medication.

He said many times, people are prescribed pain pills for a valid condition, but it can be the first step toward heroin, which he said is taking the lives of 20 Ohioans a week.

“It leads to people getting addicted, and that leads to heroin, which is cheaper,” he said.

He said doctors need to focus on alternatives, rather than resorting to pain medication as a cure-all.

“We’ve got to get away from this idea that giving someone prescription drugs is going to solve everything,” he said.

Portman also spoke of an energy efficiency bill he has co-authored with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, which the Senate will vote on this week.

He said the bill, which will be taken up as part of the bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act, will save taxpayers billions of dollars and reduce pollution by implementing existing energy-efficient technology.

Portman said the act had failed to gain support twice before, but hopes “the third time will be a charm.”

“There had been a difference in opinion on amendments before,” he said.

Portman was also asked if he had any intention to head to New Hampshire to help campaign for Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the state’s first-in-the nation primary for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I’d like to get up there, but so far, I’ve had something scheduled every day,” he said, but noted he would likely be available on the campaign trail at some point soon.

Portman said Kasich’s strength is a record of working with the legislature “to turn things around in Ohio.

“It’s one thing to give a speech, it’s another to say, ‘I’ve done this,’” he said.