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….
Eastwood Community Improvement Corporation
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