ADAMH director speaks at Betterment
By Sarah Einselen
Jody Demo-Hodgins, director of the Crawford-Marion Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, spoke to the Galion Area Betterment Commission about opiates prevalence in the county at the commission’s regular meeting Feb. 6.
“Almost every time I speak to a group in Marion County or in Crawford County they think we are the only area in the state with an opiates problem,” Demo-Hodgins began. However, that’s not the case—to judge by increasing enrollment in opiates treatment programs that help addicts detox, the problem is all over the state, she said.
There’s no ranking, either, to determine where the problem is worst. The rank that is commonly cited is the measure of unintended deaths due to drug poisoning, which includes prescription drugs, heroin and marijuana among other things. In 2009, Crawford County was fifth in the state for these unintended deaths, which don’t count suicides by drug overdoses. That year, nine drug deaths occurred in the county.
“We think the number for the whole of Crawford County was closer to six last year,” said Demo-Hodgins. While opiates and heroin are a problem in the county, she said, Galion and Crawford County are not the worst in the state.
Demo-Hodgins then summarized several figures that chronicled the rise of the area’s opiates problem. Heroin has been around longer than prescription drug abuse, she said. Deaths due to opiates, as listed on death certificates, increased 300 percent over the last decade, and property crime has risen. To complicate matters, the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services believes drug deaths are underreported, Demo-Hodgins said, because people are uncomfortable with having that listed on the death certificate.
No statistics have been gathered on drug abuse in Crawford County. The county’s Opiates Task Force, headed by Demo-Hodgins, wants to survey eighth graders and sophomores or juniors in high school regularly to gather that data.
“We do know that teenagers have access to a whole lot more things than I did when I was younger or maybe you did when you were younger,” said Demo-Hodgins.
And sometimes teens self-medicate for other problems they have, like depression.
In Crawford County, Demo-Hodgins said, “we have a higher rate of depression or ADHD in young people than you’d see nationally.” Clinical diagnoses of psychosis are more common, too.
Most people that Demo-Hodgins has worked with were led into heroin or prescription drug abuse through other channels in their teens, she said. At 14 or 15 years old, teens would start abusing alcohol or marijuana, she said, then “eventually stumbled on opiate-based medications.”
People switch to heroin after becoming addicted to opiate-based prescription drugs because “heroin is cheap,” Demo-Hodgins said. It’s more economical for an addict to sell the prescription drugs and buy heroin instead. However, heroin is getting more expensive since the pill mills have been shut down and more people are turning to it from the prescription medications.
Detoxing can take place at home as well as at an inpatient treatment center, said Demo-Hodgins, but it’s very painful and usually involves severe flu-like symptoms, including aches, vomiting and diarrhea. Suboxone, a non-euphoric, non-addictive substitute for opiates, can be used during detox under doctor’s orders, but currently no Crawford County doctors can prescribe it.
And a recovering addict often relapses several times. “If we have a hundred people present for treatment, 10 of them will be successful,” said Demo-Hodgins. That’s because relapse is part of recovery, she said. “With every relapse they have, they take some tools with them to use the next time.”
The Galion Area Betterment Commission will hold its next regular meeting at noon on Monday, March 5, in the Galion Community Hospital small dining room.