Our View: Kasich emphasizes addiction issue in Ohio

DKS Editors

Many Ohioans probably expected Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State address on Monday to sound like a droning repetition of the same issues discussed at each annual speech, such as higher education, job creation and health care.  

However, Kasich not only mentioned but also addressed in depth the addiction epidemic that has swept Ohio at a startling pace in the past several years.  

In addition, he placed those suffering from mental illness and those suffering from addiction in the same category on several occasions, stating: “These are people who struggle with mental illness and addiction. They’re part of our mission, too. We’ve taken a new approach to mental health so that families and communities have more resources. Doctors and clinics are available in more places. Communities can offer more care to those in need, including many who may not be poor.”  

This might not seem like a big deal, but the only mention Kasich made regarding Ohio’s addiction issue at the 2013 State of the State address was concerning potential Medicaid benefits for “the mentally ill and the addicted.” There was no other mention of Ohio’s epidemic.  

But Kasich didn’t stop there — he continued with personal anecdotes: “A man whose son went to my daughter’s school — one night they knocked on his door: ‘We found your son dead of a drug overdose in his car.’ A lady who took a prescription, her son took one pill, took him to the emergency room, brought him home, put him to bed. He never woke up. Or our friend Sam, who took prescription drugs that led to heroin addiction, fights it for the rest of his life.”

Perhaps the most compelling moment of the speech was Kasich’s admission that it affects everyone.

“Our minority communities dealt with it alone for a long time, alone,” Kasich said. “It wasn’t right. Now we’re all dealing with it. It knows no race. It knows no demographics. It knows no community.”

Mental illness and addiction have always been relatively taboo topics of discussion, especially for someone in such a position of power. For decades, these issues have been swept beneath more trivial topics, bit Kasich’s in-depth addressing of those topics not only indicates just how significant they have become, but also marks progress in our society’s perspective of them.


The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.