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Addressing the Opiate Epidemic
Critical Need Alert




Thanks to an exceptional response, we’ve reached our goal of $475,000! Matching funds have been exhausted. Thank you for helping those struggling with addiction in our community.


Critical Need Alert—Addressing the Opiate Epidemic


Our community, like many others, is currently fighting a battle with a silent enemy. It is destroying the lives of thousands, as well as the families who love them. Opiate addiction has skyrocketed over the past several years, and today Ohio leads the nation in opiate overdose deaths. Transformation lies beyond the emergency drugs developed to reverse overdoses. Providing outreach and education to inform us all about this epidemic is essential, as are effective resources to help individuals get and stay drug free.


The Columbus Foundation’s Critical Need Alert, Addressing the Opiate Epidemic, will benefit the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (ADAMH), as they work with local partners to address prevention, awareness, and treatment options for those wrestling with addiction.

The Need


Opiates include a wide variety of drugs, from legal substances such as OxyContin and morphine to illegal ones like heroin. Many heroin addicts start by abusing prescription opiates, which become more costly and difficult to find as their addiction worsens. Often, they turn to heroin because it is cheap and easy to find. It’s also extremely addictive. Opiate addiction affects individuals from all walks of life, and does not discriminate based on gender, geography, or socio-economic background.

  • In 2015, 321 people died of an accidental overdose in Franklin County, compared to 247 in 2014—an increase of 30 percent
  • Franklin County emergency rooms saw 837 visits related to overdoses from April-June 2016
  • Emergency Medical Services administered 700 doses of naloxone (medicine to reduce an opiate overdose) from April-June 2016 alone


“ADAMH of Franklin County has a long and steady commitment to helping residents of our community stay or become healthy, productive, and engaged—free from the negative impacts of mental illness and substance abuse. Unfortunately, central Ohio and much of our state and nation are being ravaged by opiates and heroin. ADAMH must intervene in this situation. And thanks to The Columbus Foundation and its generous donor family, we hope to have additional resources to address education, prevention, treatment, and recovery. By providing support in each of these areas, we all can be confident that our community will turn the corner on this epidemic.” 

—David Royer, CEO of ADAMH

Our Response 


This Critical Need Alert was developed as an opportunity to invest in programs, services, and an innovative tool that will offer hope to addicts and their families. The CNA will support:

  • Development of an integrated technology solution to connect people struggling with addiction
  • Increased training for providers and first responders
  • Research to inform the creation of a comprehensive, evidence-based community mental health campaign targeting addiction that directs individuals to one community phone number and one web address for addiction treatment
  • Implementation of a public education campaign to blanket Franklin County that will include a new website portal, marketing of a new, expanded crisis phone number, and the launch of the first-ever Chat Now service that will connect to trained Netcare professional staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Increased staffing to support crisis line and portal use to serve people who are in the throes of addiction as well as family and friends seeking to provide support and intervention


Email or call 614/251-4000.




Critical Need Alerts (CNAs) were created for donors and community members who want to participate in a shared investment opportunity and partner with the Foundation to support our community’s greatest needs and best opportunities to meet those needs.


To date, CNAs have leveraged more than $6.6 million for a wide range of initiatives including childcare, food for families, basic needs, fresh food, and the arts. CNA’s are identified by our Community Research and Grants Management team, which strategically verify local nonprofits to ensure the most effective philanthropy possible.