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Nearly 20 local residents have died from overdoses in first 3 months of 2017

• Apr 21, 2017 at 10:00 AM

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter to the editor was submitted by Dr. Beth B. Williams of Norwalk.

I am writing to discuss Ohio’s opiate epidemic.

Each week, we continue to see rashes of overdose deaths in communities throughout Ohio.

A new variation of heroin or fentanyl shows up and the number of overdoses and deaths spike. For the first three months of 2017, over 260 Huron County residents have been to the area’s emergency rooms with overdose complaints, and last year we lost 18 residents to overdoses.

What can we do? We need to do more to educate individuals about addiction, we need to do more to treat individuals with addiction, we need to do more to support families impacted by addiction, and we need to do more to remind people there is hope. Hope and understanding that treatment efforts work and people can and do recover.

In order to overcome this opiate epidemic in Ohio, we all need to come together. It’s going to take all of us working together in every community throughout the state. And we need to make sure we’re taking on this issue on every front, with every available dollar, every available resource, in every way possible. We need to focus on prevention, education, intervention, interdiction, treatment, and recovery supports.

It’s going to take resources, it’s going to take tremendous effort, and it’s going to take innovations. We need to ensure access to treatment and to put harm reduction programs in place. We must educate everyone about addiction, about treatment, and about how to get help. We must talk about how addiction is a chronic disease of the brain and how treatment works and people recover. All Ohioans must come together to marshal all available resources and leverage all relationships to effectively end this epidemic.

The Mental Health and Addiction Services Board is in the process of reviewing and issuing contracts for services. Our collaborations and communications with the courts, law enforcement, treatment agencies and all residents are essential. New and innovative programs are being formulated and planned. Our motivation is on making our community healthier and stronger. Remember: Determined and focused people working together can achieve great things!

NOTE: Dr. Beth B. Williams serves as executive director for the Huron County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

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