The Opiate Epidemic
Communities such as Colerain Township learn more each week about the influence of an “opiate epidemic.” Whether we are hearing about a “366% increase of drug overdose deaths in Ohio, since 2000,” or that “an average of five people per day die of drug overdose in Ohio,” (Ohio Department of Health) the problem is spreading and no community is immune. So, while a September 2014 “Ohio Health Issues” poll found that 1 in 10 (1.2 million) Ohio adults know family or friends who experienced problems as a result of heroin, we are led to ask, “Is anyone in Colerain Township trying to do something to address this epidemic?” The answer in Colerain Township is “yes.” I will take time to inform our community as to steps taken to reduce the problem epidemic for Colerain Township.
The first step taken by the Colerain Police Department was to request and accept a partnership with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office “Drug Drop Box” program in 2012. The goal of the “drug drop box” initiative is to reduce the drug use and potential overdoses associated with unused prescription pain medications. Between October 2012 and July 2014, the Colerain Police Department’s “Drug Drop Box” received more than 330 pounds of expired and/or unused medications. As partners with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, all the drugs are destroyed at no cost to the Police Department.
The next step was to educate ourselves on the depth of the problem and then partner with others who understand the problem and who can represent a greater perspective statewide through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office “Drug Abuse Outreach” team and regionally through discussions with emergency room physicians, hospital administrators, private health care providers, family based physicians, counseling and treatment resources, and public safety “first responders,” which includes the Colerain Fire Department, EMS Captain, Colerain Police Department, Community Policing Sergeant and me, the Director of Public Safety for the Township.
From the three meetings to date, we learned that very little resources are available to the persons or families who are suffering from the addiction. From the discussions so far, we sought out help from the Community Recovery Project and effective in September, both Colerain Police and Fire are providing an updated “Addiction Recovery Resources” list provided to the families or caregivers at each overdose related incident. A link to this list is below.
While these are not the only steps taken to address the “opiate” problem, the Police and Fire Departments know that we are not going to “arrest our way out of the heroin problem.” While arrests are made in every community on a regular basis, it was important to pass along some of the additional Colerain Township Public Safety “problem solving” initiatives working to reduce the impact of the “Opiate Epidemic.”
The first link below is a link to the Colerain Township Police & EMS resource packet for families to use to get help for loved ones in need. For additional information, please contact Captain Will Mueller at 513.825.6143 or Sergeant Jennifer Sharp at 513.321.COPS (2677). In addition, there are outside links with pertinent information related to drug and alcohol abuse treatment in Ohio.
Survey from Ohio Health Issues Poll: Prescription drug misuse & heroin use by Ohio adults