Collaborative effort needed for solutions to Ohio opioid crisis

Derrick Martin said he might not be able to individually have a large impact on the opioid overdose crisis, but he wants to collaborate with a larger group to find solutions.

Martin joined about 40 people Sunday afternoon at the first in a series of forums in the region intended to bring residents together to find ways to respond to the opioid crisis, which contributed to a total 562 overdose deaths in Montgomery County alone last year.

During a breakout session at the event, Martin said he doesn’t see enough support for alternative ways to treat pain without opioids and he wants to support more use of other options.

“I can’t do it by myself so I have to make those contacts and relationships with people who have the same passion and focus,” he said.

In Montgomery County, the number of opioid overdose deaths is showing signs of slowing and last year’s total was far less than the 800 that was projected in early 2017, but the numbers are still high.

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Attendees pointed to big picture causes of the opioid crisis like over prescribing opioids and larger actions that could be taken to help like more resources for treatment and educations, but the attendees were also looking for ways to individually take action.

Reg Dawson said the opioid crisis is something he and his family are always hearing about, and after the forum he planned to take home what he talked about for a dinner conversation with his family about drug prevention.

“I have four young children and it’s going to affect us one way or another, directly or indirectly,” Dawson said.

Trends indicate more than 4,000 Ohioans could die this year due to drug-related overdoses. That’s more people in one year in one state than died of terrorism attacks in the entire country in the past 20 years.

Many people are making heroic efforts in combating the opioid crisis, and it has the attention of lawmakers from Washington to tiny villages throughout Ohio. The forums was intended to add to those conversations.

At the event, attendees broke out into small-group discussions in which participants could remain anonymous if they wish. The goal was to involve the community in a conversation so that more people understand what many experience on a daily basis. And to involve more people in fighting to bring the crisis under control.

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With a show of hands after the discussion, most said they learned something new, heard a perspective they otherwise wouldn’t have encountered and that they would be interested in participating in a similar event in the future.

The event was organized by Your Voice Ohio, a collaboration of more than 30 Ohio news organizations, including the Dayton Daily News, Journal-News and Springfield News-Sun.

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“The goal today was to try to help journalists, actually, come into closer contact with the people in the community, have an opportunity to sit with a diverse group and and think about what are the competing concerns with the opioid crisis and how do we as journalists best provide people in our community with the information they need at any given moment to try to deal with say family issues or think about public policy issues,’” said Doug Oplinger, project manager with Your Voice Ohio.

Forums on opioids

The opioid crisis continues to impact lives across our region and Ohio. This newspaper will host forums throughout the region to address the issue as part of the Your Voice Ohio project. All sessions are free to attend, but because of limited seating, people are asked to RSVP online on and search for Your Voice Ohio.

Middletown — 6:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 12, MidPointe Library, 125 S. Broad St.

East Cincinnati — 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 13, Madisonville Recreation Center, 5320 Stewart Ave., Cincinnati.

Wilmington — 1 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 18, Wilmington Municipal Building, 69 N. South St.

Washington Court House — 6:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 19, The Lafayette Room, 133 S. Fayette St. South.

Need help right now?

Crisis hotline: Dial 2-1-1 to be connected to mental health and addiction services in Montgomery, Greene, Preble, Clinton, Warren, Butler, Champaign, Clark and Madison counties. In Miami, Darke and Shelby counties, the 24-hour crisis hotline number is 1-800-351-7347.

Needle exchanges: By exchanging used syringes for new IV drug users are less likely to develop infections or contract HIV or hepatitis C. Each time there is an exchange, a health official has an opportunity to provide counseling; and each time a needle is returned, that's one less potentially deadly object in a fast-food parking lot or park. Local exchanges can be found at the following locations:

Montgomery County CarePoint, 937-496-7133,

Vogel Health Center, 6175 W. Third St. in Dayton on Tuesdays from noon to 5 p.m.

Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 502 Pontiac Ave. in Dayton on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Life Enrichment Center, 425 N. Findlay St. in Dayton on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Cincinnati Exchange Project, serving Butler County, 513-316-7725

Greene County SafeTrade, 937-374-5600, Fridays 1 to 4 p.m., 600 Pierce Drive in Fairborn.

More about Your Voice Ohio

The Your Voice Ohio project was initially funded in 2016 by a $175,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, an organization that supports journalistic endeavors. That funding provided for unique polling for the media by the University of Akron Bliss Institute for Applied Politics and public deliberation sessions facilitated by the Jefferson Center, a non-profit, non-partisan engagement organization in St. Paul, Minn.

In 2017, the Democracy Fund, which supports media and public engagement in democracy, provided $250,000 to advance the work, and the Knight Foundation provided another $75,000.

The Jefferson Center continues to devise the public conversations and acts as the fiscal agent for the project. Doug Oplinger, a 46-year veteran of the Akron Beacon Journal who worked on three Pulitzer projects, manages the media work.

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