Education, compassion, help for addicts

Brent Lawyer - Guest column

There’s no escaping it.

Everywhere you turn, and almost on a daily basis, we see new reports about overdose deaths in communities across Ohio.

No area of the state, including the two counties we serve, has been immune to the prevalence of opiates and overdoses from them.

And yet those overdoses and deaths continue to spike as new forms of opiates – heroin, fentanyl and others – continue to show up.

Our federal, state and local leaders have worked on and released a variety of efforts to combat this epidemic, that’s true. Yet people keep dying across our counties, our state, and our country.

It’s time we do more. And it’s going to take all of us – every one of us – to make that happen.

Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren & Clinton Counties (MHRS), the local board of mental health and addiction services, stands ready to help.

The work of the county board is to plan, fund, monitor, and evaluate a system of care for residents living with mental health and addiction issues. Our work to help local residents dealing with opiate addiction flows from that, which is why we’ve put into writing – and our board of directors has approved – a resolution pledging to commit time, energy and resources toward educating residents while treating people who want to stop their dependence and move into a life of recovery. Other boards across Ohio are doing the same.

We are looking to provide more education and information around opiates and addiction. We want to provide every resident with knowledge of places to find help for addictions and what signs to look for if you think someone you know and love is living with an opiate addiction.

Additionally, we are focusing efforts toward prevention and intervention. Through funding to our provider partners across Warren and Clinton Counties, MHRS is investing in school and community-based prevention programs to help kids and adults make good choices and avoid drugs.

We promote Drug Take Back Days throughout the year, as well as encourage residents to take old and unused medications to drop-off points so that those pills don’t get stolen or somehow end up in the wrong hands.

Through it all, we know people in treatment may not always be perfect. There are some who may relapse and start using again. But with diligence, persistence – and yes, support of their neighbors and loved ones – many of them can rise to the challenge and recover to make themselves productive, caring citizens.

It’s going to take resources and a lot of effort on everyone’s part to come through this epidemic.

We need to help those who are addicted to get treatment. We need to put harm reduction programs in place. We need to learn about treatment, addiction, and how and where to get help. MHRS is committed to working on this.

And together, we will find a way to end this epidemic.

Brent Lawyer has served as executive director of Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren & Clinton Counties since 2003.

Brent Lawyer

Guest column