Here's the story behind that giant pill bottle in Public Square

Here's the story behind that giant pill bottle in Public Square
Source: WOIO

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Opiate abuse and addiction is an epidemic in northeast Ohio.

As a part of the Know the Risks campaign in northeast Ohio, a nine-foot pill bottle with a person inside traveled around downtown Cleveland Tuesday.

The goal of the pill bottle aimed to show that anyone could be impacted by addiction. About 80 percent of heroin addicts say they got started on that drug after first using prescription painkillers.

"The giant pill bottle is aimed at generating awareness to get the community to stop and take a look at why is there a person in a pill bottle in the middle of Public Square and the answer is to generate awareness to the risk of opioids," said Rita Andolsen, the director of communications for MetroHealth and the co-founder of the Cuyahoga County Opioid Marketing Task Force.

The goal of the task force is to educate public about opioid prescription risk factors.

Could a national health care bill mean less money for addiction treatment in Ohio?

Sen. Rob Portman has opposed previous versions of health care bills, citing concerns about Medicaid and drug treatment funding. Portman has been largely credited as one of the senators responsible for getting $45 billion over 10 years added to health care bill efforts to specifically address opiate addiction and treatment.

Over a decade, $45 billion divided equally by all 50 states equals about $900 million, or about $90 million a year. Cleveland 19 doesn't know if or how that funding might be divided in a weighted fashion based upon need. Cleveland 19 compared 2016 numbers from the state of Ohio to that $90 million number. According to the Ohio Development Services Agency, in 2016, Ohio spent about $1 billion to reduce drug abuse and drug overdose deaths.  More than half of that money, about $650 million, came from Medicaid Drug Addiction/Behavioral Services. Medicaid dollars come from the federal government.

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