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Substance Abuse Programs Fight Opioid Epidemic in Ohio

Date: 11/09/19

Buckeye Health Plan Spotlights the Need for Change

In 2017, Ohio had the second-highest opioid overdose reported deaths in the U.S. — almost triple the national average.Prescription opioids are a significant contributor, accounting for 22 percent of the 4,293 Ohio opioid overdose reported deaths in 2017.1 Given these startling statistics, Buckeye Health Plan is helping Ohio fight the opioid crisis with education and treatment programs.

“Buckeye continues to dedicate time and resources to fight Ohio’s opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Ron Suprenant, Buckeye Health Plan Medical Director. “From our involvement with Governor DeWine’s Opioid Reduction Task Force to developing effective programs, Buckeye promotes healthier, safer use of medications and supports those struggling with addiction.”

Here are examples of Buckeye's substance abuse programs:

  • Addiction in Pregnancy Program supports high-risk, pregnant members through Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) along with coverage for outpatient therapies, counseling and support. The program has contributed to a reduction in the length of hospital stays for opioid-dependent babies by 41 percent and helped reduce the percentage of preterm deliveries substantially, coming in below the state average of 10.3 percent for the last six years.
  • Pharmacy Lock-in Program prevents Buckeye members who abuse opioids from filling duplicate prescriptions by “pharmacy shopping.” Under this program, the number of opioid prescriptions for Buckeye members has decreased significantly by 32 percent between January 2018 and August 2019.
  • BuckeyeRXPlus is a customized prescription management program that successfully increases medication adherence, reduces costs and improves health outcomes for members who take 10+ medications daily or have a high-cost chronic disease. The program has improved members’ medication adherence rates by nearly 100 percent.

“Health insurance providers can make an impact on the opioid epidemic through substance abuse programs aimed at preventing addiction and helping those addicted recover. But first, the individual must recognize there is a problem,” said Dr. Suprenant. “Physical, behavioral and mood changes can all be signs of substance abuse. If you believe you or someone you know has a problem, seek help immediately.”

Know the signs of opioid abuse:

  • Side effects: constipation, nausea, vomiting and dry mouth; sleepiness and dizziness; confusion; decreased breathing; and itching and sweating2
  • Addiction behavioral signs: change in peer group; carelessness with grooming; decline in academic performance; missing classes/work; loss of interest in favorite activities; changes in eating or sleeping habits; and deteriorating relationships with family and friends3

Where to go for help:

  • Ask your doctor for a referral to an addiction medicine professional.
  • Call Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 800-662-HELP (4357) or visit
  • Buckeye Health Plan members can call Buckeye Member Services at 866-246-4358 (TDD/TTY: 1-800-750-0750) to find an addiction medicine professional and local resources for support.

For more information regarding the epidemic, check out our opioid infographic (PDF).