By Kristin Bednarski
Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board along with University of Cincinnati Clermont College and several other government organizations be hosting STAND, a community summit to discuss opiate abuse, April 12.
“Through the CCMHRB’s interactions with various sectors of the community, we have become increasingly concerned about the opiate epidemic in our community that is affecting everyone,” Lee Ann Watson, associate director of the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said.
Watson said they began talking with Dr. Jill Gomez with UC Clermont School of Social Work and eventually the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office and The Coalition for a Drug Free Clermont County to plan how to reach out to the public about the issues.
Watson said at the summit there will be several speakers as well as information about current drug trends and terminology, and opportunities to build partnerships to address the challenges.
Organizers are encouraging law enforcement officials, first responders, medical providers, social workers and concerned members of the community to attend the summit.
The sheriff’s office as well as other law enforcement agencies and first responders in the area are spreading the word about the summit and the seriousness of opiate abuse in the community.
Amelia Police Chief David Friend and Union Township Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Jackson discussed the summit at the March 26 Amelia council meeting as well as the issues they have had with opiate use in the area.
Friend said last month, his police department responded to three emergency calls for individuals who were not breathing because they had overdosed on drugs.
Friend said heroin, specifically, is becoming more popular than prescription pills because it is cheaper to buy.
“You can buy a high for $10,” Friend said. “It is cheaper than pills which are going for about $60.”
Friend said the problem with heroin is going on across the Greater-Cincinnati area and beyond.
“This is not unique to Amelia,” Friend said.
Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Jackson, with the Union Township Fire Department, said they have been seeing the same problems in Union Township and the other areas they respond to.
“The heroin epidemic is unbelievable,” Jackson said.
Jackson said each week, they are responding to heroin overdoses about five days.
Friend said they will have officers attending the STAND summit to discuss the problems they are seeing.
Watson said they received funding for the summit from the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services because Clermont County was named a “hot spot” in the state for opiate abuse.
“The funding will be utilized to start an Opiate Task Force in our community,” Watson said.
She said they are hoping to put together a task force during the summit.
“We hope that the task force will bring together all sectors of the community to discuss, plan and implement strategies to address the issue in our community,” Watson said. “We will focus on education and prevention.”
The summit will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 12 at University of Cincinnati Clermont College in Batavia.
To register to attend the summit visit http://standclermont.eventbrite.com. For more information about the summit visit http://www.clermontcountyohio.gov/2013_Community_Opiate_Summit.aspx or call the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board at (513) 732-5400.