WILMINGTON — Clinton County is a new addition to the Regional Harm Reduction Collaborative, said the collaborative’s project coordinator at an Overdose Awareness Day event Tuesday in Wilmington.
The Wilmington event was hosted by The Hopeline, Access Counseling Services, Talbert House, and Sugartree Ministries. There also was an event Tuesday in Blanchester involving the Hope Warriors along with staff from The Hopeline and Talbert House Prevention Services.
At both events, naloxone (Narcan) kits were available for distribution, and training was provided on how to safely administer the medication. Naloxone is a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.
“As part of Ohio’s Overdose Awareness Day, we are proud to join Governor Mike DeWine and RecoveryOhio in encouraging community members to carry naloxone to respond in the event of an emergency,” said Megan Pearson, prevention educator with Talbert House Prevention Services in Clinton and Warren Counties.
Daryl Hams, RN, who is project coordinator for the Regional Harm Reduction Collaborative, spoke about harm reduction and the principles underlying its practical strategies. Harm reduction “accepts, for better or worse, that licit and illicit drug use is part of our world and chooses to work to minimize its harmful effects rather than simply ignore or condemn them,” according to a flyer Hams provided.
Hams said, “Getting naloxone out is the number 1 harm reduction strategy to keep people alive. And then, clean syringes after that — syringe service programs. But not every place is ready for that. You get a lot of pushback and a lot of politics in regards to that [syringe programs such as syringe exchanges].”
Nonetheless, exchanging syringes decreases the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C, he said.
Hams said they hear reports of syringes lying around places, and they are trying to look at strategies such as drop boxes.
When it comes to syringes, Hepatitis C is the biggest concern because “Hep C” viruses last a long time, said Hams. Hepatitis C viruses can stay around in dirty syringes, he stressed.
“It’s really frightening to think of someone coming into contact with a dirty syringe,” said Hams.
Getting naloxone out for members of the public to carry has an increased urgency as overdoses were up significantly last year during the pre-vaccine pandemic.
Hams said as long as people call 911, naloxone will usually bring the person who is overdosing around — get them breathing enough to keep them going until the life squad gets there.
After noting fentanyl is a stronger opioid than heroin, Hams said, “Sometimes it might take more naloxone to bring somebody back around.”
A man participating in the Wilmington event told the representatives of the nonprofits, “You guys are doing a good thing.”
The Regional Harm Reduction Collaborative covers five southwest Ohio counties: Butler, Clermont, Brown, and now Clinton and Warren counties.
Held at Your Father’s Kitchen, Wilmington’s Overdose Awareness Day event was for food and conversation surrounding substance use prevention, recovery, community resources, and support.
“By reducing stigma associated with overdose deaths and having conversations, communities can increase their understanding about recovery resources available locally and nationally,” said Pearson.
The events were made possible by additional funding from the Mental Health Recovery Board Serving Warren & Clinton Counties as well as the Ohio State Opioid Response (SOR) Program 2.0 grant. Ohio received $96 million in federal funding during 2020 to implement programs that focus on addressing the opiate epidemic.
Hams said BrightView Wilmington Addiction Treatment Center also had an event which included having naloxone available for distribution.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.