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In a Friday, July 28, 2017 file photo, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during his interview with The Associated Press, at the National Police Headquarters in San Salvador, El Salvador. Sessions addressed the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, in Atlanta on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017. He told members that they deserve the support of every American, and said the Trump administration stands behind them. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Jeff Sessions addressed the opioid epidemic in Ohio, the state it's hit hardest


Updated August 02, 2017 12:00 PM EDT

Attorney General Jeff Sessions thanked state and local law enforcement officials in Ohio for combating the opioid crisis happening across the state.

"A person dies everyday from a drug overdose in Ohio," Sessions said. "These are people's sisters, brothers, friends and co-workers."

"Treatment is critical and often comes too late," Sessions added.

Sessions said the Justice Department has been working diligently to improve drug prevention programs and create more of them.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to speak in Ohio on Wednesday to law enforcement officers and their families in Ohio who are "impacted by opioids."

The event is scheduled to start at 11:45 a.m. EST at the Columbus Police Academy.

Ohio is the state that has been hit the hardest by the nationwide opioid crisis. In 2016 it had the most deaths related to heroin and synthetic opioids of any state. The Columbus Dispatch reported that more than 4,100 people died from overdoses.

Valeria A. Harper, CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County, said her department has been working to create services to treat those most affected by the opioid epidemic. Harper predicts that more than 800 more people in Ohio will die this year.

"Our board has declared this problem a serious public health crisis," Harper told Circa. "We're working in collaboration with the Opioid Task Force, the medical examiner's office and law enforcement to prevent more deaths from occurring."

There has been a nationwide effort to create more awareness about the opioid epidemic. The White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction urged President Trump on Monday to declare the crisis a "national emergency."

“Your declaration would empower your Cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the executive branch even further to deal with this loss of life,” the commission wrote in its interim report.

The commission was created in March and is being led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican. Its goal is to find ways to combat and treat drug abuse, addiction and the opioid crisis. In the report, the commission said the opioid crisis claims an average of 142 lives a day.

“We must act boldly to stop it,” the commission wrote. “The opioid epidemic we are facing is unparalleled.”

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