Use caution and be vigilant

By CATHY THOMAS BROWNFIELD

Family Recovery Center publicist

If you see a suspicious bottle, often a two-liter bottle that contains a suspicious substance say, white sludge with black spots, in the gutter or at the edge of your property along a street or road, call the Sheriff’s Office. Don’t try to dispose of it yourself. That bottle may contain the volatile remains from a meth kitchen that was tossed to avoid detection in a traffic stop. The substance can flash fire at any moment.

An assistant prosecutor in the county took his dog for a walk one morning. At the edge of his property was an area that had burned overnight. He called Lt. Brian McLaughlin, drug task force director in Columbiana County, and asked him to stop at his house. The suspicious burn was one of those bottles.

In Madison Township, an incident occurred with a mower. The mower hit a bottle and there was a fire. The deck of the mower protected the operator, but it could have been a much worse outcome. Again, it was one of “those” bottles.

There have been such incidents throughout the county.

Lt. McLaughlin said people used to rent a house and produce methamphetamine there until they were caught. Now they are there for a few days, sometimes just a few hours, and then move on.

Methamphetamine appears to be the drug of choice right now in the county, Lt. McLaughlin confirmed. Meth use is on the rise, replacing heroin and fentanyl, he said. Three years ago opioids were at the top of the overdose list. Now it falls third on the list. In a few years, he doesn’t think we will be talking about opioids. Fear of overdose and death is certainly one reason for making a switch, but meth does not take away withdrawal symptoms.

“We have it all,” he recently reported about drugs at a recent public presentation. And he doesn’t hesitate to add that with the legalization of marijuana for medical use, there is a 200 percent increase in fatal crash statistics.

Family Recovery Center’s clinicians who are involved with clients who come into the office for Medication Assisted Treatment (our Suboxone Program), are finding more use of cocaine, fentanyl, pot and benzo use, more than heroin use, advises Family Recovery Center executive director, Eloise Traina.

FRC’s Laura Martin said people think they are using heroin but actually they are using fentanyl and some carfentanyl. The agency is seeing an increase in amphetamine and cocaine use, and fentanyl is being found in marijuana. These days, drug users are playing Russian roulette when they use drugs.

Martin added that people are using pill presses to ghost medications so buyers think they are getting what they are paying for.

While the war on drugs will likely go on and on, Lt. McLaughlin is “cautiously optimistic” about the war against opioids. He likens it to a chess game. Each time law enforcement makes strides in slowing trafficking of drugs, the traffickers change their methods.

In the interests of public safety, there are things that everyone can do. People sometimes fear that their names will be reported to the newspapers, or that it isn’t any of their business what is going on across the street. But if your neighbor has a lot of five-minute visitors, there is likely to be something going on. And there is a very real possibility of danger to neighbors and their property. Lt. McLaughlin can be reached at 330-424-0309, fax, 330-424-0068 or email, taskforce@ccclerk.org.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

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