MHRS: What Columbiana County is doing about opiate epidemic

The notorious photograph posted at Facebook by the East Liverpool Police Department in 2016 brought global attention to the opiate epidemic in our region, creating concern and controversy. The epidemic and what is being done to address it concerns everyone.

The county’s first line of defense is the first responders: the police, fire, ambulance personnel who are first to arrive on the scene. The Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (OACBHA) is heading up the campaign Bringing Help, Bringing Hope Thank You during Week of Appreciation, April 9-13.

“The goal of this weeklong series of activities is to shine a light on the tremendous work going on in communities throughout Ohio to address the opioid epidemic and to specifically show appreciation to the front line workers,” said OACBHA in a press release.

The Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board (MHRSB) has pledged its support for “the individuals, family members and professionals throughout the community who are Bringing Help, Bringing Hope by working everyday to save lives, provide treatment, assist families and support recovery in Columbiana County.”

Family Recovery Center (FRC), The Counseling Center of Columbiana County and the OSU Extension 4-H office are assisting the MHRSB with local activities.

The 4-H students will deliver thank you gifts to first responders and frontline workers at 48 sites in Columbiana County during Appreciation Week. Included in the deliveries is a flash drive provided by the state featuring three videos: 1.) thank you; 2.) self-care; and 3.) how to protect themselves from exposure to fentanyl, as well as other information that provides resources available to assist them in their work.

Marcy Patton, executive director of MHRSB said, “This is a thank you to the individuals who focus on the opioid epidemic.” There will be a public rally at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 11 at the gazebo on the square in Lisbon to acknowledge the people who are working to end the epidemic and the efforts that are being made to prevent and/or treat opioid addiction.

The question circulates, “We have a problem, but what is being done about it?” Patton said there is a lot going on behind the scenes, including the formation of County Hubs to Combat Opioid Addiction throughout the state.

“These hubs will help to expand and strengthen local efforts to eradicate Ohio’s opioid epidemic,” says OACBHA. County hubs will nurture and reinforce county and community efforts to prevent and treat addiction, including opioids, educate youth and adults about opioids, addiction and recovery; promote family building and workplace development as ways of combating the effects of addiction on communities; and encourage community engagement in efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

The county hubs throughout the state will share information as they focus on prevention, education, intervention, interdiction, treatment and recovery.

The hubs will include community leaders, the faith-based community, education, law enforcement, child welfare, family members, healthcare, the business community, civic organizations, human services, the treatment community and individuals in recovery.

“The County Hubs to Combat Opioid Addiction will serve as a platform for community engagement, incubators for innovative ideas, and catalysts for community change as we collectively face the addiction crisis in our state,” said Rep. Scott Ryan, Ohio House of Representatives.

The See Something, Say Something initiative at the East Liverpool Police Department is now gaining national attention. The program began almost a year ago. Anonymous tips are called in to the police department (330-385-1234, Option 2) or messaged to the police at the East Liverpool Police Department Facebook page, which is constantly monitored and updated with photographs of activities. The program appears to be working to reduce opioid-related problems in the city.

Twelve law enforcement officers from 10 departments recently became certified in the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model, through a training funded by the MHRS Board and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This training equips officers with the knowledge and skills to help individuals with substance use and mental health disorders.

Patton said a number of faith-based organizations have also implemented programs and supports. Outreach and support is being offered through churches and other faith-based programs, such as Family Care Ministries and Celebrate Recovery, to assist individuals with substance use disorders and their families.

Funding from OhioMHAS (Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services) and distributed through the MHRS Board is supporting FRC’s Too Good for Drugs and Violence program to expand prevention and education with evidence-based programs and to bring marijuana education to school and summer programming.

Federal and state funding available through the 21st Century Cures Act funding is providing services for individuals with an opioid use disorder (OUD). These funds have been used are for peer support and medication-assisted treatment. Some of this funding was also used by the Department of Jobs and Family Services (DJFS) to assist for pregnant women and parents of children under age 5 with OUD.

FRC also hired a peer supporter to work with females with OUD who are coming out of county jail and those residing in women’s recovery housing.

In addition, some of the funding is used to purchase Vivitrol for individuals being released from county jail and/or in treatment through the Eastern Ohio Correction Center. Vivitrol is provided by injection prior to release from jail and lasts 30 days, which allows time for the person to get into recovery services and supports.

The county’s Municipal Drug Court Docket, overseen by a Drug Court Administrator funded by the MHRSB, also provides an opportunity for individuals to access treatment, instead of only being incarcerated.

The MHRS Board also supports Project DAWN (Death Avoided With Naloxone.) Just last week the U.S. Surgeon General announced the need for more people to carry Narcan to reverse overdose and avoid death–the problem is that widespread. Narcan kits are available from FRC with a training that teaches how to use the medication.

“We need each other and we need to work together to bring an end to the opiate epidemic,” Patton said. “Too many families have lost loved ones–parents, children, siblings, friends, and other relatives–as a result of this deadly epidemic. Too many individuals struggle each day to fight the battle against addition. We do know that ‘treatment works’ and ‘recovery is possible,’ but only if we join together to help those with opioid and other substance use disorders.”

Anyone who would like to participate in the local County Hub to Combat Opioid Addiction should call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board at 330-424-0195 or leave an e-mail at mpatton@ccmhrsb.org. More information about the programs and services available throughout the county can also be obtained by calling either the MHRS Board or “211” through Help Network of Northeast Ohio.

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