LIMA — With opioid addiction in the area continuing to grow at an alarming rate, several prominent members of the Lima community are coming together to attack this issue comprehensively from multiple angles.
After conducting an initial meeting in December, the Allen County Action Commission for the Opiate Epidemic met Friday at the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties to further discuss what can be done to combat opiate drug abuse, with representation from the first responder, law enforcement, medical, local and state government, business and educational communities included in the committee.
“We can’t wait any longer to address this opiate epidemic in our community,” Mental Heath and Recovery Services Board executive director Mike Schoenhofer said. “Just since the start of 2017, there were 41 overdoses in Allen County alone. The purpose of this commission is to engage a wide range of members of the community to recognize that the opiate epidemic is a community health crisis and to begin to take concrete steps to change the trajectory of this fatal addiction.”
Among the strategies discussed during the meeting were communicating between various hospital emergency departments if a spike in overdose cases is being observed and issuing an alert between hospitals and first responders of potential bad batches of heroin in neighborhoods. Other topics included how to help families of those dealing with addictions as well as the families of those who try to help those people, outreach to college students as well as looking at how physicians prescribe opiates to patients.
Another initiative being undertaken, this time by Modo Media, is creating a “Let’s Talk” campaign for parents, emphasizing the need to talk with their children about drugs and suicide while also giving them positive reinforcement.
“The idea is to connect with every parent, not just the parents of troubled kids,” Schoenhofer said.
Modo Media is creating a video on those three talking points with the hopes that it will be shown throughout the community — in area churches, at schools and even before football and basketball games. There is also discussion about possibly building an app where parents can keep a record of their child’s positive achievements from which to draw as they praise their children.
“The idea is that research tells us that if parents talk to their kids about these three topics — suicide, drugs and their positive attributes — they’re less likely to be involved in drugs,” Bath schools superintendent Dale Lewellen said.
The group hopes to have the campaign in place by September.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.