Opioid crisis

First responders thanked for bringing help to addicts, hope to community

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News First responders on the streets and in hospitals were thanked recently for bringing help to opiate addicts and hope to the community. Police, fire and EMS personnel gathered in the Wood County Courthouse atrium to receive the gratitude of local officials who realize the difference they make to many who are addicted to opiates, and their families. True to form, the first responders present shunned the spotlight – preferring to be in the background while others talked. “Not often enough do we take time out for the people who deal with it every day,” said Chris Streidl, interim director of Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. He pointed out the frequent efforts made to revive opiate addicts, so they can have another chance at life. “They bring help to those who need it. They bring hope to the community,” Streidl said. The roles of first responders continue to change – with more frequent and serious demands being placed on them. Marc Jensen, vice chair of the ADAMHS Board, talked about being a first responder for seven years. “You’re never trained enough. Every situation is different. Every situation is frightening. Every situation is soul-searing,” Jensen said. “But you keep doing it because it’s your duty.” The community needs to support those first responders, who are often hit by the severity of the situation hours after they return from the scene, he said. “Please give them your undying support and admiration,” Jensen said. Police, fire and EMS thanked for their efforts. The Wood County Commissioners also offered their support, including Craig LaHote, who was a volunteer firefighter and EMT for years. “It’s amazing to me how much the landscape has changed,” he said, noting all the new training requirements and difficult challenges. “We really appreciate all the first responders.” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw talked about the commitment of first responders – even when they aren’t on duty. “We want to thank first responders for always being there, even when you’re not in your uniform,” she said. “We know that you’re there for us. We are glad we have people willing to do that.” And Commissioner Ted Bowlus talked about the first responders putting themselves at risk when responding to calls, especially with extremely potent versions of opiates. “The first responders are putting the welfare of the patients ahead of themselves,” he said. Wood…

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ADAMHS levy aims to save lives from drugs, suicide

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Tom Clemons makes his rounds to public meetings before next week’s election, he talks about the big difference made by a levy that costs voters a small amount. The 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years for Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services will cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $35 a year. That money is spent on dealing with growing drug addiction problems and increasing needs for mental health crisis services. “We save lives,” said Clemons, executive director of Wood County ADAMHS. The levy funding is needed to keep up with growing needs for services, Clemons said. Some of the biggest issues include dealing with the opiate epidemic, providing more mental health housing, and improving crisis intervention services. Wood County is expected to hit 30 deaths this year from opioid overdoses. The number of suicides is also on the rise, with the county trending at about 20 this year, Clemons said. The funding is vital, he said, for programs fighting the opioid crisis, plus an increase in methamphetamine and cocaine abuse. Addiction recovery houses, and the mental health services are all part of the safety net supported by the WCADAMHS levy. The county used to average six to seven suicide deaths a year. “That’s too many,” Clemons said. And then they spiked. In 2015 there were 17; in 2016 there were 20; in 2017 there was a drop to 11; and this year the county is on pace to hit 25. In response to the increase in adult suicides, the ADAMHS board recently decided to fund a mobile crisis response that replaced The Link crisis center. The mobile unit responds to crises wherever the person is – at home, work, a store, or a park, Clemons said. It has unlimited capacity for calls, so no one calling in for help will be put on hold, he added. “Everybody who answers the phone is thoroughly trained in crisis response,” he said of the new hotline. The ADAMHS board also funded training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, designed for people who are suicidal, self-harming or aggressive to others. The therapy has been proven very successful, Clemons said, and focuses on self-calming skills, mindfulness and meditation techniques. When the training is complete, Wood County should have 30 to 40 therapists available with expertise in the DBT techniques. The…


Jennifer Karches: Issue 1 will save money & improve public safety

Please vote YES on Issue 1. I understand it’s not perfect, but there is NO hope that our legislature will enact any meaningful prison/sentencing reform anytime soon. Too many lives are ruined with Ohio’s punitive drug laws, which rely on prisons as the answer. Did you know one year of prison costs Ohioans $30,000? Ohio has approximately 50,000 inmates, which means WE spend approximately $1.5 billion per year locking people away, rather than actively working to rehabilitate and treat their addictions. There is a better way! According to Ohio Safe and Healthy Communities Campaign, here are some excellent reasons to vote YES on Issue 1 to reduce the number of people in state prison for low-level, nonviolent crimes and put the money to better use by directing savings to drug treatment and crime victims. ✓ YES on Issue 1 saves taxpayer dollars: Ohio spends more than $1.8 billion per year on a broken prison system where too many people who pose little public safety risk are incarcerated while treatment and prevention programs suffer. Issue 1 will save tens of millions of dollars annually in prison spending and direct the savings to addiction treatment and victims of crime. ✓ YES on Issue 1 puts our public safety dollars to better use: Wasting law enforcement resources and prison on people struggling with addiction makes no sense. Issue 1 requires misdemeanors instead of felonies for low-level drug possession offenses and requires community service, treatment or local jail, instead of state prison, for people convicted of these crimes or who break probation rules (such as missing a meeting). Treatment and supervision work better to improve public safety than a revolving prison door. ✓ YES on Issue 1 reduces recidivism: Issue 1 expands earned-credit programs so that qualified people can be considered for release if they participate in rehabilitation programs. Experts agree that requiring people to earn their way out of prison through rehabilitation reduces the likelihood they’ll commit more crimes. ✓ YES on Issue 1 protects public safety: This was carefully written to ensure that people that are a danger to public safety remain incarcerated. No one convicted of murder, rape or child molestation will benefit from any aspect of this measure. Issue 1 has bipartisan support from law enforcement, mental health and addiction treatment providers, nurses, faith leaders, and victims of crime. SAVE MONEY. IMPROVE PUBLIC SAFETY. Jennifer Karches Bowling Green


Local judges urge citizens to vote NO on Issue 1

It is a rare circumstance when a judge writes a letter to the editor concerning a statewide issue. It is even rarer when five judges do this. Five Wood County judges – Common Pleas Judges Reeve Kelsey, Alan Mayberry and Matthew Reger along with Bowling Green and Perrysburg Municipal Court Judges Mark Reddin and Molly Mack – want to ensure every citizen in Wood County makes an informed decision when voting this fall. All five of us urge citizens to vote NO on ISSUE 1, a state constitutional amendment that will destroy years of progress on the opioid epidemic and make Ohio a magnet for drug dealers. Our arguments against this issue are numerous but here are the top five reasons to vote no: 1. This is a Constitutional amendment that cannot be changed. In the last 25 years the drug epidemic has changed significantly taking many different forms. We have no idea what the emergent drug will be in a year, 5 years, or even 10 years from now.  Policy changes, given the specificity of Issue 1,would take years and substantial resources to adjust and could not be completed in time to address the nuance of the changing dangerous drug situation. 2. The opioid epidemic and dangerous drugs addiction are both a health care and criminal justice issue. Issue 1 tries to pigeonhole drug addiction as exclusively a health care matter. But in doing so the proponents ignore the necessity of compelling treatment for those unwilling or unmotivated to engage. Issue 1 eliminates a court’s ability to incarcerate people who are using drugs that could kill them. Many people who find themselves in a system that is seeking to help them would find themselves with neither help nor assistance. 3. Issue 1 would effectively eliminate drug courts, intervention in lieu of conviction, and other programs meant to assist drug addicted individuals. Ohio has spent significant resources in time and money creating specialized courts, dockets, and programs to address the drug epidemic. These programs are making inroads in helping courts be more nuanced in dealing with the specific needs of each defendant who is drug dependent. Issue 1 will eliminate all of this progress. 4. The proposed savings that Issue 1 would bring are illusory at best. The Office of Budget in Management recently released a report concluding that “the proposed amendment would not produce significant savings to the state…


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…


BGSU to host all-day opioid teach-in, Sept. 25

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATION Bowling Green State University will host “Change the Story: Opioid Teach-In” on Sept. 25 to raise awareness about the opioid crisis, make connections to existing resources, research and data, and to apply BGSU expertise to help individuals gain practical skills to help the community. The event is open to community members interested in or affected by the opioid crisis. Sessions will be held from 9:15 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in various rooms in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. “Because of our knowledgeable faculty and staff, across disciplines, Bowling Green State University is uniquely positioned to examine the opioid crisis facing the region and the country,” said Dr. Melissa Burek, associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “We hope to increase awareness of this epidemic as well as explore solutions for positive change.” Topics of the teach-in include: National context of crisis Family experiences Neurology of addiction Recovery Treatment Urban, suburban and rural justice responses Prevention Policies and approaches to changing the story The opioid crisis affects nearly every community and the country at large. It is projected that opioid use may result in the deaths of more than 500,000 people over the next 10 years at the present trajectory. In Ohio, opioid overdoses and deaths are among the highest in the nation. By hosting the opioid teach-in, the University takes a leadership role in education and solutions for this epidemic. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in any session of interest. Sessions will vary from informational videos, discussion panels, training seminars and story sessions to presentations by individuals who have experienced addiction as well as families affected by the opioid crisis. BGSU also has created “Change the Story: An Original Film,” offering important techniques to lead safe and informative discussions for positive change in the way the community views the opioid crisis. BGSU has brought together knowledgeable faculty and leading community members to share their expertise. Sessions will be led or facilitated by representatives from local health and safety organizations, including the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board, Wood County Sheriff’s Department, the Zepf Center, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Northwest Community Correctional Center. Burek added that, in addition, BGSU students have been a valuable part of the planning process. In keeping with BGSU’s role as a public university invested in the public good of the region, the teach-in will…


BGSU forensic science center part of study to field test drugs for opioids

From The ATTORNEY GENERAL’S CENTER FOR THE FUTURE OF FORENSIC SCIENCE AT BGSU Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Bowling Green State University President Rodney K. Rogers, Ph.D. announced today that the Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science at Bowling Green State University is part of a team that will conduct a study that could help Ohio authorities safely, quickly, and reliably field test drugs for the presence of opioids. The Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science (the Center) and Vuronyx Technologies are part of a partnership that today received a $200,000 grant as part of the Ohio Third Frontier’s Opioid Technology Challenge, an effort to find technology-based solutions to address or improve opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and overdose avoidance and response. The grant funds will be used to develop small, portable paper test cards that could be used by first responders, law enforcement agencies, medical professionals, and crime scene investigators in the field to quickly detect opioids and cutting agents in drug samples. The Center will conduct a study to validate the results of the test cards using control substance standards alone and in the presence of cutting agents at various concentrations. “Right now, we discourage local agencies from field testing drugs because opioids are just so dangerous, but we are excited about the prospect of helping to develop this new technology,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The goal is to help local authorities quickly determine what type of drugs they’ve encountered while limiting the chance for an accidental exposure.” “As a public University, we’re committed to helping address the critical societal issues facing the state,” said President Rogers. “This is a great example of the real-world, applicable research the center is doing to aid law enforcement.” “We welcome this opportunity to partner with Vuronyx to develop this rapid opioid detection technology,” added Dr. Jon Sprague, Director of the Center. More information on the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge can be found here.