Task force develops plan of action to decrease opiate addiction in the county
By SARAH EINSELEN
At its June 9 meeting, the Crawford County Opiates Task Force “added to its to-do list,” according to co-chairwoman Jody Demo-Hodgins. The task force discussed its options and laid out several goals and concrete steps to achieving those goals.
Mainly, the task force will raise awareness about the issue via an all-out media campaign. Dave Williamson, director of the Crawford County Economic Development Partnership, said that based on his media background, all kinds of media should be used.
Plans are to run public service announcements on the upper channels of Time-Warner cable and on the Time-Warner bulletin board channel, and to use radio air time and newspaper press releases as well. The task force discussed putting up billboards too, but the cost of a billboard seemed expensive and that decision was put off for a later meeting.
A recovering addict at the task force meeting suggested staffing a table at local festivals. After discussion of the price of a booth and the manpower necessary to staff one, many in the group thought it would be more efficient to partner with a similar organization, such as the county board of health, to staff a booth and distribute materials.
Additionally, the Crawford group planned to partner with the state task force and its media initiative.
Another goal of the task force is to involve the local recovery community in the efforts to stop the county’s drug addiction problem. According to a man active in the Galion-are recovery community, local recovering addicts are more than willing to help if given appropriate opportunities. The man wished to remain anonymous because of his association with recovering addicts, to protect their privacy and his.
The task force plans to build on some existing efforts to reduce opiate addiction in the county, as well as to start a couple new efforts.
Besides the awareness campaign to run in the local media, the task force discussed organizing a list of available speakers to distribute to organizations who might be interested in learning more about drug addictions and how to fight them.
The task force also intends to identify a physician in Crawford County willing to administer medication-assisted treatment to drug addicts and to train that physician in the treatment. No such treatment exists in Crawford County, though a facility in Mansfield just re-opened last week.
Local law enforcement will be involved with the task force’s initiatives. The Galion police department has already held two drug take back days in the past two years, in which residents may bring in their old prescription drugs and sharps (needles) for proper disposal. The most recent one was about a month ago. Another one has not yet been planned for this year.
The task force also plans to apply for help through the Ohio office of the High Incidence Drug Trafficking Area program, a federal program which coordinates local, state and federal law enforcement to halt drug trafficking. The program also provides equipment and technology to the agencies involved.
Other plans include re-inviting the county judges to the task force meetings.
Several support groups already exist in Crawford County to help the families of drug addicts, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Together We Hurt, Together We Heal. The task force discussed launching a complementary group modeled after Scioto County’s “SOLACE” group, intended to support families who have lost loved ones to drug-related deaths. “SOLACE” stands for Surviving Our Loss And Continuing Every day.
The task force intends to use the state Recovery to Work program to help opiate addicts who meet specific criteria escape their addiction, receive vocational rehabilitation and obtain gainful employment. The program is already funded via existing state budget money.
The Crawford County Contact hotline also serves already as a telephone crisis intervention and referral service, which a recovering addict at the meeting said was important. Discussion ensued surrounding whether to expand the service to include texting capabilities and how to go about doing so. Some task force members thought younger addicts in particular would be much more comfortable asking for help via SMS rather than via a telephone call.