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State Opioid Task Force To Hear Southwest Ohioan Concerns At Upcoming Meeting

Your Voice Ohio hosted community conversations in Dayton, Middletown, suburban Cincinnati, Wilmington and Washington Court House in February 2018, to brainstorm with local residents and identify potential solutions to the opioid crisis.

A group of Ohio journalists, mental health and addiction advocates is preparing to meet with some members of the state’s opioid task force Monday, April 23.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services-hosted gathering is designed to increase information-sharing about the state’s opioid epidemic.

The meeting is the second of its kind to result from Your Voice Ohio, an opioid-reporting collaborative between WYSO and more than three dozen other Ohio news outlets.

Project organizers say they plan to share with state officials some of the key findings collected during public meetings with more than 500 Southwest Ohioans touched in some way by the opioid crisis.

Read more about the project.

Your Voice Ohio project creator Doug Oplinger says many people surveyed at the meetings are frustrated by a lack of affordable addiction treatment options in their communities.

“The counties that are suffering economically because of job issues are also suffering in local government, and they’re unable to provide a lot of the services that the people need very badly because of this opioid crisis,” he says.

Oplinger says many Your Voice Ohio participants said they wanted to see the medical community do more to address the opioid crisis.

Numbers from Gov. John Kasich’s so-called Cabinet Opiate Action Team show accidental drug overdose continues to be the leading cause of injury-related death statewide.

More than 4,000 Ohioans died from an accidental drug overdose in 2016 -- up dramatically from 3,050 deaths in 2015, and the highest number ever recorded in the state.

State data show many of the overdose deaths were linked to fentanyl and fentanyl-related drugs including carfentanil, as well as the combination of cocaine with fentanyl and other opiate drugs, officials say.

Synthetic fentanyl is known to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In Montgomery County, overdose deaths are down so far in 2018 compared to the same time last year. County health officials credit some of the drop to increased availability of the overdose reversal drug naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is beginning to have an impact.

In a rare national advisory, United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams recently called for making naloxone easier to access in hopes of reducing opioid-overdose overdose deaths nationwide.

Many people at the Your Voice Ohio meetings expressed frustration over not knowing where to find addiction help for themselves, addicted family members or loved ones. In response to these concerns, Your Voice Ohio partner news outlet The Dayton Daily News produced a comprehensive Opioid Addiction Resource Guide that includes information about treatment options, recovery programs and other community resources.

Click here for the resource guide.