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New state program aims to make treatment for substance use disorder more affordable for Ohioans

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Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Bottle of pills

The state is setting up a new education program for financial advisers, to teach them how to better help their clients who are dealing with the impacts of substance use disorder and to pass on information about available resources.

Those on the front lines who are dealing with substance use disorders say families of thousands of Ohioans who go through treatment for it often dip into their retirement savings or destroy their nest egg to access care.

There is financial help available to avoid that but many Ohioans don't know how to access it. And their financial advisers may not either.

Lori Eisel, president of Arcadia Financial Partners, has seen the problem firsthand. Her 13-year-old son has gone through several rounds of treatment for substance use disorder.

"When I learned that my child was using drugs, I didn't know where to start," Eisel said.

Eisel said her private insurance picked up much of the cost of treatment but she said she realizes many people aren't as fortunate to have that kind of coverage. And she said it's not just the cost of treatment that causes financial pain for families.

"It's also tough to quantify the other things that go along with that — lost wages, health care expenses, automobile accidents, costs that insurance won't necessarily cover. It can be financially and emotionally devastating for families," Eisel said.

Eisel said educating financial advisers about the issue will help them ask the right questions of their clients and give them options that help them plan for the cost of treatment, without causing financial ruin in the process.

Andrea Seidt, the Ohio Securities Commissioner for the Ohio Department of Commerce, said a recent study of financial advisers showed most don't realize if and when their clients are struggling because of addiction in their families.

As she explained, families are often ashamed to discuss their struggles of affording treatment with their financial advisers, so they don't get the help they need before they wipeout their savings.

Seidt said the problem is more common than one might think. She said one in 13 Ohioans goes through substance use disorder treatment. And she added it can be very expensive.

“The median financial impact is roughly $35,000 a year,” Seidt said.

Seidt said the new state campaign called Recovery Within Reach will include public service announcements on television as well as digital ads. And she said resources are now available on a state website, RecoveryWithinReach.Ohio.gov, including a map that shows where treatment is available and gives a variety of payment options for those services.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.
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