Your Voice Ohio project manager Doug Oplinger discusses how Sunday's forum can help make a difference.

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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In a forum sponsored by the Dayton Daily News on Sunday at the downtown Dayton Metro Library, area residents and health officials discussed and shared ideas for how to best tackle an opioid crisis that killed more than 1,000 people in the region in both 2016 and 2017. KAITLIN SCHROEDER/STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

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.

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