Opioid crisis

Local judges voice negative verdict on State Issue 1

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry uses a penny to show one of the flaws with State Issue 1. He points to the minute beard on Abraham Lincoln, and explains it would take just 2 milligrams of fentanyl to cover Lincoln’s beard – and to potentially kill 10,000 people. Then the judge explains that under Issue 1, someone could be picked up with 19 grams of fentanyl and only be charged with a misdemeanor. “That’s unconscionable,” Mayberry said. Wood County’s three common pleas judges are in agreement that Issue 1 – which will appear on the November ballot – would be bad for Ohio. The intent of the state issue is to offer treatment rather than jail time for drug offenses. The language makes the vast majority of drug offenses misdemeanors rather than felonies. “The state is struggling with whether drug addiction is a crime or a mental health issue,” Judge Reeve Kelsey said. But the judges – Matt Reger, Kelsey and Mayberry – said treatment is already being offered in Wood County. All that Issue 1 would do is result in the courts having one less tool to use to convince addicts to get clean. “We see people in front of us every day,” Reger said. A simple slap on the hand is not enough to convince most of them to give up drugs – though in front of a judge they may profess their commitment to quit. “We’ve all had someone in our courtroom who has died a week later.” Issue 1 would take away the judges’ “stick” and leave them only with the “carrot.” “There’s no stick. There’s no consequence,” Mayberry said. “They can blow off treatment or restoration, and there’s nothing we can do to them.” Wood County Common Pleas Courts already use graduated responses for drug offenders, with many people offered intervention in lieu of jail time, Reger said. Many of those sentences are designed with the individual in mind, he said. The offenders can be ordered to attend treatment, get education, get mental health help, go to an anger management or domestic violence program, or perform community service. “It’s giving them the tools to live,” Kelsey said. “We already have gradual responses,” Reger said. “We’re already doing it.” For example, Reger has required offenders to work on getting their GEDs, do volunteer reading to kids at the library, or work at the 577 Foundation. “We try to be very individualized to that person,” he said. However, if the offenders fail to follow through on the judges’ orders, the threat of jail is always hanging over their heads. That will no longer be the case if Issue 1 passes. “All we can do is say, ‘No, no. Be a better person,’” Kelsey said. “This will not work.” It’s not uncommon for an addict to come in for a drug test before arraignment, professing that they are drug free – only to be found with multiple drugs in their system. “That person is not going to give up drugs,” voluntarily, Reger said. But under Issue 1, the judges would not be able to order jail time for a person who fails a drug test. The three judges also feel strongly that making these changes in a state…

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More levy funds sought for opiate, mental health services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Tom Clemons would love to not have to ask Wood County voters for more money. But then he would also love if the opiate crisis weren’t killing people, and if the state and federal government would not have cut funding. So on Tuesday, Clemons, the executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, made his pitch to the county commissioners for the agency’s levy request. The board will be seeking a replacement 1-mill levy plus and an additional 0.3-mill levy. The levies will be on the November ballot. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said that the commissioners will have to discuss the levy requests before deciding whether or not they will get their blessing as the levies go on the ballot. “We listened to what he had to say,” she said of Clemons’ presentation. “We’re still at the point where we’re absorbing what he had to say. We’ll be discussing it. We want to make sure it is the right fit for Wood County and for the ADAMHS board. The current 1-mill levy generates about $2.9 million. The new levies will bring in an additional $1.3 million. Clemons said the additional funding is needed to keep up with growing needs. “First and foremost, we think the opiate epidemic is costing us a little over $700,000 a year,” Clemons said last week. The costs include inpatient and outpatient detox services, recovery housing, clinical services for the Vivitrol program in jail, services for addicted women who are pregnant, help with the Addiction Response Collaboration, short-term residential treatment, help providing medication like Naloxone, outpatient programs, and school-based prevention programs. “It’s touching everyone,” Julie Launstein, ADAMHS finance director, said of the opiate crisis. But it appears that Wood County’s opiate programs are working according to Chris Streidl, manager of clinical programs with ADAMHS, who explained that this county has a significantly lower death rate than those being seen in Lucas and Hancock counties. “We see the numbers,” Clemons said. “This epidemic is not going to go away any time in the near future.” At the same time as the opiate crisis, the ADAMHS board still needs to deal with other mental health, alcohol and drug addiction issues. “We’re going to have to look at doing some more mental health housing,” Clemons said. That will include more 24/7 supervised housing and more independent housing. The agency also sees the need to improve crisis intervention services. “We have had more deaths due to suicide in the last three years than due to overdoses,” Clemons said. In 2016, there were 20 suicides recorded. And the numbers aren’t looking better this year. “We’re on pace for breaking a record.” Turning around those numbers will take programming, he said. “In order to address suicide, you have to have crisis intervention services 24/7, and excellent therapy,” Clemons said. ADAMHS is looking at a different solution than the brick and mortar Link facility in Bowling Green. “There are very few people who walk into it,” to get help, Clemons said. So ADAMHS is interested in offering a mobile crisis response. “So we can treat the crisis where it’s occurring,” whether that’s at home, in a park, or in a store, he said. If Wood County were to have…


Workshop to address “Treating Pain Responsibly,” May 30

Submitted by BG MANOR “Treating Pain Responsibly,”  free event will be held on Wednesday, May 30, 4:30-7:15 at the Wood County Senior Center, at 305 N. Main Street, Bowling Green. The free event will feature dinner at 5:30 p.m and presentations beginning at 4:30 p.m. from Dr. Nancy Orel, Emeritus Professor at BGSU, Dr. Jeff Swartz, physician at Falcon Health Center, Dr. Mickey Frame, Chiropractor at Whole Health at Falcon Health Center, Lon Muir, pharmacist at Falcon Health Center and Stephanie Wise from Zepf Center. Dr. Nancy Orel will be presenting from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on “The Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Older Adults” Her presentation will start with an overview of how the opioid crisis impacts older adults.  She will discuss more than just the increasing rate of opioid overdose deaths amongst older adults. Instead, she will include discussion on how opioids for chronic pain may be more difficult to obtain (due to recent policy), the problems with misusing opioids, how to safely disposal of unused opioids, and how grandparents are being asked to raise their grandchildren because of the opioid crisis. She will also discuss the economic and emotional toll of the opioid crisis. Dr. Swartz, Dr. Frame and Lon Muir will be presenting from 6-7 p.m. on the “Whole Health Approach.” Stephanie Wise from the Zepf Center will be doing a Narcan training/distribution from 7-7:15 p.m. The event is sponsored by Bowling Green Care Center and Bowling Green Manor, for more information, contact Jeff Miller at 419-351-6514.


First responders honored for giving opiate addicts second, third and more chances

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Those being honored Monday in the war against opiate abuse weren’t front and center. As usual, they were gathered far from the podium. “The first responders are all in the back of the room,” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson said. “Frankly that’s where they would prefer to be. They would much rather be out doing their jobs.” Those are the jobs they were being honored for on Monday – saving people from opiate overdoses. “They step into circumstances that we can’t imagine,” Dobson said. “They stand between us and danger in a very real sense on a daily basis.” EMS and law enforcement are being recognized across Ohio this week for saving people who overdose on opiates. In the Wood County Courthouse Atrium, the first responders were thanked by the second and third responders in the opiate crisis. To show appreciation in Wood County, that meant lunches will be delivered to fire and police stations throughout the week by Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “This is basically to say ‘thank you.’ We know it’s difficult work,” said Milan Karna, with the Wood County Prevention Coalition. A video was played, showing people who had been saved by first responders using narcan to revive them after overdoses. The faces thanked the first responders for not giving up on them – even if they had to respond to the same person for multiple overdoses. Tom Clemons, WCADAMHS director, used Dobson’s terminology of this war on opiates creating “refugees” in need of care. “It takes all of us working together on this,” Clemons said. On the front lines of this war are EMS, law enforcement, children’s services, and hospitals. “It is a widely recognized fact that a lot of first responders are putting themselves at risk,” with fentanyl being very dangerous to those treating overdose victims. But the use of narcan is giving opiate addicts another chance at life, Clemons said. “We’re seeing more and more people’s lives saved,” he said. “That’s where recovery begins. Treatment does work and people recover.” Evidence of that is seen with the county’s new Addiction Response Collaboration program through Dobson’s office. Since its inception about four months ago, the program has worked with 35 opiate addicts in Wood County. Of those, seven people have been sober for three months, and three have been sober for four months. That is a good retention rate, according to ARC’s Belinda Brooks. “I don’t think there’s an EMS or law enforcement in the county that hasn’t seen something” of the opiate epidemic, Brooks said. Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said his deputies had another save from an overdose this past weekend. He also said it’s not uncommon for the county jail’s holding cells to be doubled up with people detoxing. “I never would have thought I would be carrying narcan in my pocket,” he said, showing the small nasal injector. Wasylyshyn acknowledged that some people are critical of first responders making multiple rescues of the same addicts. “Why do you want to save them,” they ask. Simply because all of them are someone’s son, sister, mother, grandson, the sheriff said. “Gee, maybe you should only save them so many times,” some people…


Wood County Hospital offers new treatment option for addicts in withdrawal

From WOOD COUNTY HOSPITAL Wood County Hospital is now offering medical stabilization services to help people overcome withdrawal symptoms from drug and alcohol addictions through New Vision™ medical stabilization service. “Wood County Hospital is excited to offer this program in partnership with New Vision. As the numbers of patients struggling with drug and alcohol abuse increase, the Hospital more frequently receives patients suffering from medical comorbidities as well as addiction. This service will help those patients medically stabilize so that they are better able to enter substance abuse treatment. We are blessed to have many behavioral health treatment agencies in Wood County, and hope that by having this service we can more effectively collaborate with them.” – Stan Korducki, President,Wood County Hospital. The New Vision™ service serves adults with a medically supervised hospital stay for inpatient stabilization, which usually lasts three days. The inpatient stay will include prescreening, assessment, admission, medical stabilization and discharge planning. Upon admission, an assessment will be completed with an evaluation of the patient’s medical history, a physical, a laboratory workup and nursing assessment. Discharge planning will occur prior to leaving the hospital; the patient will be referred to appropriate community-based treatment programs to help prevent relapse and continue their treatment. New Vision™, a hospital-based medical stabilization and withdrawal management service, is provided through a partnership with SpecialCare Hospital Management Corporation of St. Charles, MO, and is currently offered in many hospitals across the United States. SpecialCare has been providing inpatient medical stabilization in collaboration with short-term acute care hospitals for over 25 years. More information can be found at www.specialcarecorp.com. For more information about the New Vision™ medical stabilization service please contact New Vision at Wood County Hospital Monday through Friday at (419) 728-0604.


Opioid war being waged, with casualties close to home

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The chief toxicologist with Lucas County Coroner’s Office studies death for a living. He has never seen anything like the opiate epidemic. “There has never, ever, ever, ever been anything in our country like this,” Dr. Robert Forney said Sunday during an opioid forum sponsored by the Eastwood Community Improvement Corporation and led by Dr. Ted Bowlus, a Wood County commissioner and physician. “We are killing more people every year than we lost in the Vietnam War,” Forney said at the meeting held in Pemberville. The death statistics are similar to a 737 crashing each day. “The numbers are just unbelievable.” Forney’s toxicology work covers 21 counties, including Wood. In 2010, his office saw eight opioid deaths. By 2017, that number had jumped to 350. “There are going to be more in 2018,” he predicted. Others on the panel are working to prevent those numbers from growing in Wood County. Most recently, Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson set up the Addiction Response Collaborative. “There is an industry out there that hates what we’re doing here today,” Dobson said of the illegal drug trade. “We’re at war with that industry.” Dobson, who lost a stepson to opiate overdose, said his office takes that war seriously. “We’re one of the most aggressive offices prosecuting drug dealers who kill their buyers.” But that isn’t enough, he added. “In a war, we take in the refugees.” That’s where ARC comes in. Belinda Brooks and Deputy Ryan Richards work with ARC to keep track of opiate addicts and give them every opportunity to get clean. For Richards, that means random checks. “I want to make sure he knows I’m watching him.” For Brooks, that means getting the addicts set up with Medicaid and other services. “We stay with them for the long haul. It’s so easy for them to relapse,” said Brooks, whose daughter was an opiate addict. Since ARC started in November, the program has worked with 15 addicts – 14 who are still sober, she said. More than 80 percent of opioid addicts get started by misusing prescription drugs, according to Kyle Clark, prevention education director with the Wood County Educational Service Center. “This epidemic is quietly creeping in several homes,” Brooks said. Many Wood County residents have lost loved ones, or know of someone who has, Wood County Chief Deputy Eric Reynolds said. “You’re all here today to be that spoke in the bicycle wheel,” he said. “All of you are here to do more.” Reynolds presented some stats on opioid deaths. In 2016, the nation saw 64,070 opioid overdose deaths, Ohio saw 4,050, and Wood County saw 21. The Wood County Sheriff’s Office administered six doses of Narcan to bring back overdose victims, while EMS departments used it 102 times. Recently, an off-duty deputy administered Narcan when an overdose victim ran his car into the deputy’s home, Reynolds said. A growing number of parents are losing their jobs and custody of their children due to their addictions, said Tom Clemons, executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. “There’s a real crucial needs for foster parents,” to care for those children left behind, Clemons said. Dobson compared opioid deaths to road accident fatalities. Those killed on…


Forum in Pemberville to discuss opioid crisis, Feb. 11

Submitted on behalf of EASTWOOD COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT CORPORATION An Opioid Forum and Panel Discussion: Prevention Through Education will be held Sunday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m. at the Pemberville Legion Hall, 405 E. Front St., Pemberville. The event was organized by Dr. Ted Bowlus (Wood County Commissioner) and sponsored by the Eastwood Community Improvement Corporation (the intent to preserve the communities of Eastwood School District). Dr. Robert Forney (Chief Toxicologist, Lucas County Coroner’s Office) will be keynote speaker. Presentations will be offered on: How serious is this problem? What is addiction? What is Wood County doing about it? What can the public do? Panel Discussion will address questions from the public. Speakers Include: Paul Dobson – Wood County Prosecutor, Director of the Addiction Response Collaborative (ARC) Belinda Brooks – Addiction Response Collaborative (ARC) Ryan Richards – Addiction Response Collaborative (ARC) Tom Clemons – Executive Director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board Aimee Coe – Director of Community Programs (ADAMHS Board) Kyle Clark – Director of the Wood County Educational Services Center Milan Karna – Wood County Prevention Coalition Coordinator Eric Reynolds – Wood County Deputy Sheriff Dr. Ted Bowlus – Wood County Commission, Board Certified Physician, adjunct professor of Neuroscience Nancy Orel – Professor Emeritus (BGSU), Executive Director of Research, Optimal Aging Institute (BGSU) For more information; Call Dr. Bowlus at 419-351-4091