BOWLING GREEN, OH (WTOL) - As the 2018 Ohio gubernatorial election heats up, the debate on how best to deal with the opioid epidemic is also heating up.
"The challenges are the opiate problem. That's a huge, huge challenge," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. DeWine says fighting opioid abuse will be a big part of his campaign.
With candidates mounting on both sides, WTOL asked local drug treatment leaders if they expect big things from the candidates.
"Absolutely. I think there is no question that this is probably the biggest public health crisis of our time," said Milan Karna, the coordinator for the Wood County Prevention Coalition in Bowling Green.
Karna said the opioid tragedy, which killed more than 4,000 Ohioans last year, has to be one of the top priorities of every candidate.
"The numbers keep increasing and unfortunately, it's going to be a tough job for whoever comes in," he said.
Karna wants the next Governor to effectively use the resources available and add more funding. And here's a concept; he wants them to work with the other side.
"You're going to have to have all the folks that maybe you were opposed with, and trying to bring them alongside your agenda," Karna added.
Matt Rizzo of Toledo treatment center A Renewed Mind says there should be special attention to opiates, given the deaths and savings to taxpayers if treatment can get to more addicts instead of prison time.