Despite a record high five overdose deaths to start 2017, the year actually saw a decline in the total number of deaths — a positive sign that proactive measures being developed by the local opiate task force are working.
“What we do know is that we are seeing a drop from 2016 to 2017,” Tammy Nicholl, co-chair of the Coalition for Opiate Relief Efforts said at the group’s quarterly meeting Wednesday.
Four areas have already been identified, Logan County Family Court administrator and grant writer Annette Deao said. Among them are a health educator for the community, creating detox beds or an inpatient rehabilitation center, creating new peer support opportunities and increased funding for the Logan County Joint Drug Task Force.
Other CORE team members highlighted the following successes from 2017:
• An overdose response team was formed between law enforcement, social services and sober support peers to reach out to individuals who overdose and the group has made numerous contacts over the course of the year.
• Several new sober events and activities, including a recent New Year’s Eve party, four new weekly sober support meetings and Celebrate Recovery launched last year.
• Local physicians have increased their ability to prescribe medication-assisted treatment drugs, including both Suboxone and Vivitrol.
• Local doctors, including the Mary Rutan Emergency Department physicians, have continued to move along discussions about prescribing opiates for pain relief, while nearly all pharmacists are continuing to use the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System to track opioid prescriptions.
• Medication take-back programs, including stationary drop boxes at the Logan County Sheriff’s Office and Russells Point Police Department, have netted more than a ton — 2,000 pounds — of unwanted medications since the program’s inception in 2010.
• A conversation has begun about the need for local detox beds and providing a better bridge to therapy for individuals who are beginning withdrawal from opiates and other addictive drugs.
• Educational efforts continue in the schools to steer youths away from drug and alcohol use.