Bethel Township’s addiction coalition welcomed a representative from the Ohio Attorney General’s heroin unit to speak at their meeting last week. Working to provide Western Clark County with a comprehensive list of resources for families battling addiction, the coalition discussed outlets for help closer to home, as many struggling with addiction in these rural areas cannot travel to Springfield for treatment.

The coalition named itself the “Clark County Recovery Advocates” (CCRA). The main concern for this meeting was to set up a place where recovering addicts can get the help they need, the only issue was transportation. Currently, the CCRA is thinking of more locations in which they can have more of these resources available. Although they will begin offering resources at Family and Youth Initiatives from 9 a.m. through 1 p.m. on Wednesdays on N. Dayton-Lakeview Road in New Carlisle.

Carol Baden, from the Attorney General’s heroin unit, expressed her concern over addicts who are newly released from treatment facilities. She and the CCRA stated there needed to get more support from the community for sobriety efforts and long-term recovery management.

“Everyone is concerned with getting them in somewhere for treatment, and that’s all great, but what are you going to do with them when they get out?” Baden said. “We need to be building a community that can support people in sobriety—with job support, employment support, and a place for the families of these people,” she said.

Baden also mentioned that Miami County is offering Continuing Medical Education courses for primary care providers in the hopes that they’ll be able to treat addiction with controlled prescription doses.

The CCRA has agreed upon trying to set up events that involve the community coming together to teach children to not involve themselves with drugs. FYI’s Safety Day will be held Thursday, August 11 on the grounds between Tecumseh Middle and High Schools, and Executive Director Pat Banaszak said she expects between one and two thousand people. Banaszak said the event started as a means to show children that police were good people has expanded into an inclusive event that focuses on all aspects of safety and prevention. Care Flight usually makes an appearance, as well as men and women from local fire, EMS, and sheriff’s departments. This year, Safety Day will target teenagers and attempt to engage them in the event by hosting a competition between first responders and teens on the school’s running track.

Another symposium is also planned for this year, currently scheduled for Wednesday, September 21. The group agreed to keep the same format this year, welcoming a variety of pertinent guest speakers such as doctors, law enforcement officials, and Attorney General Mike DeWine.

The CCRA will hold these activities in hopes of influencing current users to quit and get help. This includes counseling, MAT, and assistance with school.

MAT, medication-assisted treatment, is a drug that addicts can replace instead of the substance they currently use. The new drug does not impair a person’s intelligence, mental capability, or physical functioning. Medications such as Vivitrol and Suboxone are currently used in the county, however, Baden said these drugs must be used in combination with counseling and support in order to be effective.

“Vivitrol won’t work alone, you have to have support too,” said Baden. “There’s nowhere to detox, and withdrawal is agony,” she said, adding that a doctor in Fayette County just released his “detox in a box” kit, which contains over-the-counter and prescription medicines to provide some comfort for those enduring the effects of withdrawal.

The group is encouraging the community to help recovering addicts in school by giving them scholarships or financial aid. It was also suggested that we have more food banks in Western Clark County. This is necessary because many of the recovering addicts have no way of transportation. Some members urged food banks within walking distance of one another.

Lori Erion of Families of Addicts said transportation is one of the biggest problems in providing help for addicts on this side of the county, as most services are located in downtown Springfield or neighboring counties.

The CCRA was formed in Bethel Township, and is comprised of private citizens, local businesspeople, recovered addicts, church members, law enforcement, and elected officials. Anyone close to the issue is welcome to attend the next meeting on Wednesday, May 11 at 3 p.m.

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