Public opiate, heroin forum Jan. 28 at SSCC


By Jeff Gilliland – [email protected]

An epidemic that’s reportedly taking 6.5 Ohio lives a day, and way too many in Highland County, will be the topic of a public Opiate/Heroin Open Forum from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Southern State Community College Auditorium in Hillsboro.

“It will be a panel discussion to talk about the issues out there. A lot of people don’t realize how bad it is,” said Joe Adray, the CEO of FRS, formerly Family Recovery Services, in Hillsboro, who has been instrumental in organizing the forum. “We can’t arrest our way out of this. We can’t treat our way of it, we can’t incarcerate our way out of it without some kind of intervention. It really does take a whole a community coming together to see how we can help.”

The event is open to the public and Adray said his hope is that the 450-seat SSCC auditorium is filled beyond capacity.

According to Adray, there are now more 47,000 U.S. overdose deaths annually. He said 2,347 Ohioans died from overdoses in 2014.

“That’s like 6.5 people a day and it’s getting worse, that’s the thing,” Adray said. “The heroin/opiate epidemic is such a multifaceted event in someone’s life, and it’s just not in their life. It affects the entire family.”

The forum, which has a subtitle of “Working Together for the Future of Highland County” is being put on by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office. It is sponsored in part by the Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition and the Paint Valley ADAMH Board.

The keynote speaker, and a part of the discussion panel, will be Ohio Congressman Brad Wenstrup, who is also a doctor. Other members of the panel, Adray said, will include Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner; Tracey Coss, emergency department nurse manager at Highland District Hospital; local judges David McKenna and Rocky Coss; Jeff Beery, M.D.; and Dr. Charles Russell, who works with FRS on a weekly basis.

The news release said that during the meeting attendees will learn more about the epidemic and will then begin to put in place a strategic plan that includes all community organizations.

“In my role with the Office of the Attorney General Mike DeWine, I work with communities to put into action a plan to raise awareness with the goal of significantly reducing drug abuse,” Carol Baden, an outreach specialist with DeWine’s office, said. “Communities across Ohio have come together and made a difference. Once we have developed the action list, my office will provide solutions used elsewhere in the state so that a difference can be made quickly. It is my goal to work with you to share some of the successes throughout the state, understand more about what may work best in your community, put a plan together as a group, execute the plan, and save lives.

“My goal is not to replace activities already in place, but to understand the services that currently exist, fill in the gaps, share with you affective strategies, programs and services, and to develop a strategy that incorporates all.”

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.

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