Members of the Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition met virtually Wednesday, with REACH for Tomorrow collaboration director Creed Culbreath sharing twin proposals for preventative drug disposal in the county.
Culbreath emphasized that the proposed drug disposal options were for all types of expired prescription medication, which he said would be a better method of disposal than flushing pills or liquids down the toilet, or putting both them and used syringes into a trash bag for disposal in a landfill.
“Right now, there is one public drug disposal box in the county, it’s in the justice center and it’s for pills only,” Culbreath said. “Unfortunately, people are throwing all manner of things in there, so it has to be sorted out and taken across state to a blast furnace for destruction.”
He said what the coalition wants to do is add three locations in area pharmacies that would allow disposal of all manner of drugs and paraphernalia.
One proposal the organization’s prevention committee will consider is the Highland County Self-Contained Option from MediBurn, which provides one 50-quart locked metal box with inner containers at four Highland County locations: Corner Pharmacy in Greenfield, Downtown Drug in Hillsboro, Kratzer Pharmacy in Lynchburg and the lobby of the Highland County Justice Center.
One MediBurn Drug Terminator incinerator would be stationed at the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.
In this option, Culbreath said, transportation of the disposed drugs and paraphernalia from the pharmacies to the incinerator would have to be done by off-duty law enforcement members of the coalition.
The second, but more expensive Highland County Single Service Vendor Option would make disposal, pick-up and transportation, and incineration the sole responsibility of MedCollect.
The vendor would place three 15-gallon MedCollect locked metal boxes at the three Highland County pharmacy locations, in addition to a larger 40-gallon locked metal box in the justice center lobby, replacing the existing pill drop box.
“Either option would be paid for by a grant acquired through our area ADAMH board,” Culbreath said. “I think this will be a great drug preventative effort for the county.”
In summing up other old business from 2020, he told the meeting that last year, emergency drug-related dispatches via Highland County 9-1-1 totaled 113, which was the same number of drug-related emergency room admissions at Highland District Hospital and Adena Greenfield Medical Center for the first three-quarters of the year.
“The fourth-quarter stats haven’t yet been posted by the Ohio Department of Health,” he said. “We don’t know what the last three months of the year does to those numbers.”
He said the EMS dispatch figures were from the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, while the emergency room numbers came from the Ohio Department of Health.
The guest speaker at Wednesday’s virtual meeting was prevention committee chair Jeff Meyer, now in his fifth year of working in prevention.
He said the committee had secured funding from the SPF-RX grant (Strategic Prevention Framework for Prescription Drugs), and planned to implement a media campaign regarding alternatives to pain medication.
There is currently a billboard and a video advertisement at Star Cinemas, with the current goal being to provide more medication disposal boxes within the county to prevent medication misuse.
One effort his committee is engaged in has been dispersing nearly 400 disposal bags throughout the county, as well as to pharmacies to give to customers.
“We’ve also been partnering with a local hospital surgery center that will pass out disposal bags to any of their patients that receive pain medication,” Meyer said. “We’d also like to provide naloxone (Narcan) to the hospital to give out with the medication in the event of an overdose.”
Meyer is currently in the process of receiving credentialing to be an Ohio prevention specialist assistant.
In the roundtable part of Wednesday’s meeting, members who are representatives of area agencies presented updates on their various drug prevention efforts:
• FRS/Roger Cheesbro reported that it has partnered with REACH to distribute Narcan to those family members who are affected with addiction. He also reported that the Massie House had plenty of open beds and that an individual could contact outpatient services to set up an evaluation. He noted that Sublocade is now being offered in Medically Assisted Treatment services.
• UC/Dr. Jennifer Lanzillotta told the group that a new grant is coming out for subgroups in the rural community for treatment services.
• Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health/Gina Bates said it has received a pair of grants to provide services within the jail, including MAT and “wrap around” treatment services. She said the goal is to help the individual pass through each transition stage from incarceration to ongoing sobriety.
• Highland County Community Action Organization/Ada Amburgey said the agency had received a new grant to offer health services for people within their homes and if incarcerated, which includes sexually transmitted diseases and overall wellness. She added that HCCAO was also doing wellness activities and education for those in recovery, in addition to receiving a grant for youth resiliency which will serve three county schools.
• Paint Valley ADAMH/William Showman said his agency will be doing dual diagnosis screening for seventh- and ninth-graders, in addition to youth-led coalitions within its five-county service area.
• Empowering Communities Initiative/Ian Murphy said his organization was focused on naloxone distribution and peer recovery support. ECI also has a partnership with Harm Reduction Ohio, which he said had led to more individuals partnering in their mail order services.
“Nobody decides to be an addict,” Culbreath said. “It’s an extraordinarily difficult life, and as Dr. Lanzillotta has said, drugs — particularly opioids — are good at masking physical pain, but they’re much better at blotting out emotional pain.”
The next meeting of the Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition will be held virtually on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 12:30 p.m.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.