A representative from Sen. Rob Portman’s office, Nan Cahall, spoke at the Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition’s general meeting on Thursday.
Cahall shared with those at the meeting some of Portman’s accomplishments, specifically focusing on his part in creating PreventionFIRST!, once known as the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati, and writing legislation for the Improving Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion (Improving CARE) Act, the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 Act.
Overdose deaths dropped from 71,000 in 2017 to 68,000 deaths in 2018, Cahall said, and while she said that was encouraging, she also said that it’s still not enough.
“More people die each year in our country than died in the Vietnam War. We have to keep putting that into context because we have to keep fighting it,” Cahall said.
Cahall also offered moral support to the Highland County coalition.
Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition President Creed Culbreath announced that, since the coalition took to social media, they have half of the leads they get about those who need help overcoming addition come to them through their social media platforms while the other half are sent to them by law enforcement. Culbreath said their goal is to get around 90 percent of the people they help to come to them through social media with the remaining 10 percent coming to them as offenders. Culbreath said that once someone’s in the system as an offender, it can be difficult to get them treatment.
In September alone, Heath Stratton, Quick Time Response (QRT) call coordinator and quality behavioral health specialist for REACH for Tomorrow in Greenfield, said that they’ve helped get three people treatment, though they interacted with more people. That doesn’t account for the people who found treatment programs for themselves, Culbreath added.
Culbreath also shared a story about an interaction with a woman who was struggling to overcome addiction even though she’d completed multiple recovery programs.
“They all taught me something new and important about my addiction and how it was killing me,” the woman told Culbreath, “but it didn’t teach me how to live.”
The programs taught her that she shouldn’t hang out with friends who would tempt her to go back to her old habits, Culbreath said, and they taught her that her family had fallen apart due to these problems, but none of the programs taught her how to meet “the right” friends or how to fix her relationship with her family. Culbreath encouraged attendees to speak with people about ways to actively improve their lives instead of only focusing on things to avoid.
The next coalition meeting will be on Thursday, Oct. 24 from noon to 1 p.m at the North High Street Business Center in the large conference room. The meeting is open to anyone who would like to attend. Follow the Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition on Facebook to stay up-to-date.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.