Most of us are aware of the issues our country faces with opioid addiction, and Ashland County is no exception. We are now beginning to see a rise in methamphetamine use and alcohol addiction continues to be an issue.
In recent months Ashland County Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (A.C.C.A.D.A.) has been increasing its prevention efforts. We hope to engage parents, guardians and mentors by encouraging them to use the Start Talking program.
In 2011, the state of Ohio adopted a multi-pronged approach to fighting against drug abuse. One approach has been the development of a website called, Start Talking. The effort was launched by Governor John R. Kasich, and is geared toward parents and guardians. This website has been designed to give adults the necessary tools to start conversations about the importance of making healthy life choices and living drug-free. One of the leading contributing factors adolescents give for remaining drug-free is attributed to conversations with parents or guardians.
One of the programs on the Start Talking website is called KNOW!, which was developed by the Prevention Action Alliance in Columbus. The goal of the KNOW! Program is to help parents develop communication habits with their children regarding a substance-free life. By signing up for this free program parents will receive two emails per month with tips for talking to children about drug use and refusing peer pressure, as well as current facts about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. KNOW! places great emphasis on encouraging the habit of regular conversations about everyday life between parents and children. Regular conversations help develop relationships. It’s those relationships coupled with the habit of conversation about everyday life that make it much easier and more natural to move into deeper discussions with young people about drug use. As mentioned earlier, we find a positive correlation between adolescents who choose to remain drug-free and these regular conversations with parents.
Kris Hickey, A.C.C.A.D.A.’s Senior Prevention Educator, encourages everyone who has children or works with children to visit the Start Talking website. “As parents, educators or coaches, we’re pretty good about talking with kids about alcohol or marijuana. However, we often forget to talk to them about those medications we may have in our homes. One pill can take anyone down a road they didn’t intend. Start Talking is an excellent resource for reminding us to talk with our kids about things we might forget or overlook unintentionally.”
A.C.C.A.D.A. would like to take this opportunity to encourage our Ashland County parents and guardians to visit the Start Talking website at: starttalking.ohio.gov. Sign up for the twice monthly emails and engage with your children on this relevant and important topic. Once you’ve registered to receive the KNOW! emails, send us an email at email@example.com and let us know you’ve signed up and your thoughts on the website.
By DENNIS DYER
Published: June 12, 2017
What is the state of affairs regarding the opiate epidemic? Unfortunately in 2016 there were 9 accidental drug overdose deaths as reported by the Ashland County Office of the Coroner. The information from the coroner’s office indicates that 85% of those dying had opioids in their systems. Opioids include a number of opioid based drugs as well as Fentanyl and Carfentanil. In most cases there were also other drugs in the systems but it appears that opioids are the key element in the overdoses. The 9 deaths in 2016 was an increase of 4 over the 5 deaths in 2015. Our condolences go out to those who have lost loved ones.
Recent reporting done by the New York Times indicates that nationwide the number of overdose deaths has continued to rise. Official numbers have not been generated to date but the New York Times projects the overdoses nationwide may reach 59,000 to 65,000 by the end of 2017. Montgomery County (Dayton) is experiencing a surging overdose death rate that may reach 800 in 2017. The prior year was reported to have been around 375. Other urban counties are projected (based on current known death in 2017) to increase more in the range of 19% to 36% for 2017.
A.C.C.A.D.A. continues to see high numbers of Ashland residents present with Opioid Use Disorder. In the last year 172 person received outpatient treatment with another 39 treated who were using opioids as their secondary drug. Combined this was 43% of all clients getting services at A.C.C.A.D.A. This is similar to the last few years.
The Ashland Community seems to be increasingly aware of the opioid problem. In the last 2 years with support from the Mental Health and Recovery Board, A.C.C.A.D.A. has placed the “Heroin Hurts” billboards in the county. A number of related articles have been published by A.C.C.A.D.A. The Times-Gazette has written a number of articles and printed others from other newspapers and news services. Others have spoken out about this problem such as law enforcement and court authorities. Several doctors locally have advocated a more cautious approach to prescribing the potentially addictive opioid based drugs. It appears the community awareness of this problem is high. When I am in the community and the issue is mentioned, individuals express an awareness and concern about the opioid problem.
The county prosecutor, Chris Tunnell, has tried to address this problem through prosecution but early on recognized the importance of prevention and treatment efforts that parallel enforcement efforts. To his credit, early on in his tenure as County Prosecutor, he made a visit to A.C.C.A.D.A. to find out what is available as far as treatment. He has continued to advocate for related prevention and educational efforts. When I sought his input for this article he noted that “arrests are about the same but not because things are getting better”. He is seeing that the law providing immunity for overdoses has reduced arrests. He is also seeing that arrests are shifting to methamphetamine. There are indications that in some cases dealers are mixing cocaine with heroin. While at this point he has not seen laboratory evidence of this, he is of course concerned about this trend. He also notes increases in children in custody or Children Services related to drug problems in parents.
A.C.C.A.D.A. counselors have seen some situations where clients have switched to methamphetamine off of heroin. This may be in part because the heroin habit was unsupportable due to tolerance developing and making the heroin use unaffordable. The methamphetamine is cheaper and lasts longer.
Another disturbing trend is that Carfentanil and Fentanyl are showing up in the drug overdose victims. Most of the users know that these drugs are being mixed into the heroin to boost strength.
Since these drugs are so powerful, it increases the risk of overdosing.
It appears that the opioid epidemic is continuing and that the use of Fentanyl is causing an increase in nonfatal overdoses and overdose deaths.