opioid crisis

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…


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  


Optimal Aging Institute launching initiative to tackle opioid problems among older population

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even in retirement, Nancy Orel stuck by some of a gerontologist’s favorite reading – obituaries and the coroner’s report. In the listing from the coroner’s office, she noticed something interesting. Of the six people listed as dying from opioid overdoses, three, were over 50. Yet when she went to see what programs were available to help address the toll the opioid epidemic is taking on older Americans, she couldn’t find any. She mention it to those engaged in the battle against opioid addiction, and they would not have given older Americans any thought. True the greatest number of addicts are under 50, but the rates of addiction and abuse are raising faster among those 54 and older. The federal Center for Disease Control doesn’t even keep tabs on how many older Americans die from opioids, she said. (The Wood County Health District does a better job, she said.) So when interim Dean Sue Houston, of Bowling Green State University, called Orel in to see if she maybe wanted to come out of retirement, she said “yes.” She’d retired as associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services less than a year before. Though she was enjoying retirement, she saw something more needed to be done. Orel told Houston that when she first proposed creating the Optimal Aging Institute it was to promote the research being done at BGSU on aging related issues, and foster more research. The Optimal Aging Institute was launched in March 2016 with a $1 million grant from Medical Mutual of Ohio. In November Orel took on the newly created position of executive director of research for the institute. That represents a shift at the institute. The institute will continue its focus on the aging in place and age-friendly communities under executive director Paula Davis working with the Wood County Committee on Aging. Denise Niese, executive director of the Committee on Aging, said the two groups have worked in tandem on programming, and now all programs will be offered in conjunction with the committee to avoid duplication. Orel will direct the new research driven initiative, also working with Niese of the Committee on Aging. They have a long-standing close working relationship. In 2005, they created the No One Is Immune project that dealt with…


Opioid addiction is the talk of the town

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News State Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) was understating matters when he said last Wednesday that the opioid epidemic has “a lot of people talking.” He said this just as a “BG Talks: Heroin and Opioids in Bowling Green and Wood County” was just getting underway at the Wood County District Public library. The moderator for the panel discussion Kristin Wetzel, began the session painting a bleak picture of the crisis nationwide, 948,000 overdoses in 2016, and 13,219 fatalities. These numbers are enough to get anyone talking. On Thursday afternoon, State Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) convened a roundtable of state politicians, law enforcement officials, and treatment experts to discuss the crisis. This Wednesday, Sept. 20, the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce will host a seminar on the epidemic. See details here. Both Gardner and Sprague noted that the legislature has done more than talk about the issue. In a budget year when the legislature faced tight finances, it budgeted an increase of $178 million more to combat the epidemic. Still, Gardner said, frustrations over the progress remain. Eight years ago, Belinda Brooks, of Solace of Northwest Ohio, got “a crash course” in the issue. Her then 18-year-old daughter became hooked on opioids after a serious ATV accident. She was prescribed Percocet and Vicodin. Having some self-esteem problems, the daughter suddenly realized “she was the life of the party when she took them.” That led to heroin. And at 19 she got pregnant, and even that wasn’t enough to get her to kick the habit. Charlie Hughes, of the Northwest Community Corrections Center, said of addicts “their brain has convinced them they need (the opioid) to survive.” “My life changed,” Brooks said. Afraid she would fall apart, she reached out to other parents in her situation, and formed the support group Solace. “I made many mistakes,” Brooks admitted. “I hid her addiction. I thought I could fix her. … When it comes to addiction all your parenting skills go out the window. You need to get them into treatment.” And that means being tough. “We encourage people not to enable,” said Aimee Coe, of the Zepf Center. That means being vigilant in spotting the symptoms. Brooks said she was confused why her daughter carried so many long handled cotton swabs. They…


Library to host panel on drug crisis, Sept. 13

On Wednesday, September 13 at 7 pm the Wood County District Public Library will host a panel discussion on heroin and opioid use and addiction and their impact on our community. Panelists include Sen. Randy Gardner; BGPD Chief Tony Hetrick; Charlie Hughes of Northwest Community Corrections Center; Solace of NW Ohio’s Belinda Brooks; and Aimee Coe of the Zepf Center. Learn what is being done locally to fight this epidemic, and what you as a community member can do to help. For more information, contact the library at 419-352-5050.


‘Did the war on drugs create the opioid crisis?’ – Brad Waltz

By now most all of us know of someone affected by the use of heroin. There is no question that every story surrounding its use is a sad one. This article is by no means meant to distract from or to minimize that. So, we have a opioid epidemic. It’s on the nightly news, well nightly. Mike DeWine is making a gubernatorial run in Ohio based on the tragedies. Congress in late 2016 passed the Cures Act; in it $1 billion is set aside to fight the epidemic over the next two years. The latest Senate Healthcare bill sets aside a massive $45 billion over the next ten years. The money will be used to, among other things, “Encourage the use of additional drug courts.” To, “Work to expand same day services for recovery from substance use disorders and co-occurring related disorders.” So, plainly this must truly be an epidemic. Here are how the numbers shake out. According to the CDC, annually 480,000 people die from the effects of cigarette smoking. I’ve no idea the CDC’s methods of tabulating this. I suspect the numbers are a bit fudged to warrant an anti-smoking campaign slush fund. Annually 88,000 die in alcohol related deaths. Car crashes account for (in 2016) 37,757 deaths 55,000 die annually (on average) from the flu In 2013, 31,959 people died the result of stumbling. This number is expected to grow as our life expectancies continue to rise. So, I ask you, the reader. How many people died from heroin overdoses in 2016? How many people dying (again sadly) warrant more federal power, more taxpayer money- to the tune of $4.5 billion per year, over twice the entire federal budget of Greenland? Must be over a 100,000 right? Or is it more? The Federal government has done nothing in terms of an outright ban on tobacco products and it kills, according to the government- nearly a half million people a year. Granted they tend to be older than the typical overdose from heroin death but the heroin overdose death total must be on par with a legal product like tobacco to warrant such funding and attention. Have your number? 12,989. Now, granted, that is just heroin overdoses. Another 9,580 died from the use of fentanyl and another 17,536 from Oxycodone and Vicodin. In…