This is amazing. We don’t have more drug abuse here. We have the right partners in place to make such efforts successful.
Prescription medication abuse has reached epidemic proportions in Ohio.
The fact is, 55 percent of our youth get non-prescribed meds from their own family or friends. Opiates such as oxycodone (known on the street as oxycotton), heroin, Vicodin and others are now in third place behind alcohol and marijuana as the most abused drug.
Heroin is making a fierce comeback because it is cheap, more readily available and stronger than it was in the past. New recreational synthetic “designer drugs” such as K2, Spice and bath salts are being manufactured to mimic the effects of pot and even cocaine and LSD — and they are more deadly.
The sad reality is these substances are easy to obtain in our schools, on our streets, in some convenience stores and even in your own medicine cabinet. Fortunately for us, we do not have any bona fide pill mills in our community.
LOOKING AT LOCAL DISPOSAL
The Stark County Anti-Drug Coalition of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board has joined forces with the Stark County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and local police to help rid our community of unwanted or unused drugs by hosting two drug take-back days per year, part of a national program.
We foresee the day when the DEA will no longer be able to facilitate this effort, not because opiate abuse is not a high priority but because of the cost of the effort, particularly that of destroying the medications, which have to be incinerated for environmentally safe disposal.
In anticipation, we are preparing to take the next step to give our community a safe place to dispose of drugs. The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board has purchased four drug depository boxes that will be located in police stations across our county. Locations will be announced later.
In addition to working with law enforcement, we are beginning talks with local foundries in the hope that one will be willing to destroy the medications we take in. This will allow for year-round disposal.
Drug take-backs are only one facet of the work our community is doing to combat opiate abuse. Stark County’s Opiate Task Force has been meeting for nearly one year. Representatives of law enforcement, education, social service and other government agencies and citizens are working to understand trends, make policy changes, increase access to detox programs and pilot Suboxone treatment to help people recover from addiction.
A program called YOUng People Matter works with 18- to 25-year-olds to advocate for drug-free youth. Statistics show that unintentional overdose is the leading cause of death in this age demographic.
The Anti-Drug Coalition focuses on 12- to 18-year-olds and works closely with the schools around the issue of drug and alcohol awareness.
SOLACE of Stark County, or SOS, a new grassroots community group, is working on policy change, advocacy and community awareness.
Reducing drug abuse is a complex issue. Drug-take back days and community disposal are important pieces of the puzzle. While there is much more work to be done, we have a solid running start.
To find out more or to become involved, call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board at 330-455-6644 or visit www.starkmhrsb.org.