The city of Franklin will launch a new outreach program to combat the opioid epidemic.
The program — called HOPE (Heroin Opioid Prevention Education) — has been in development for nearly one year, according to Fire Chief Jonathan Westendorf.
The HOPE program will include:
- starting a Quick Response Team, which is similar to community programs already in use in Hamilton, Middletown and Colerain Twp.
- developing a community Narcan program
- establishing a needle exchange program
“We’ve been working on this for 11 months,” Westendorf told city council, which gave its support of establishing the program. “We’re talking about treating an addiction.”
The opioid epidemic has caused stress on emergency services in the city during the past two years due to a rising number of response calls for overdoses, according to the fire chief.
Westendorf said fentanyl and carfentanyl overdoses have increased as well.
He said there has also been a sizable shift in the past two months with methamphetamine. From June 2016 through March 2017 there were two methamphetamine calls, Westendorf said. That number spiked to 18 calls from April to September.
Westendorf said a community forum will be scheduled in the next several weeks that will feature an expert panel and answer questions about the program.
One Franklin resident, Kevin Kash, asked why government should spend money for these programs and Narcan to revive addicts who overdose. He also said resources are needed to get people in recovery to become productive members of society.
Some city council members also expressed concerns about the program appearing to cater to addicts and about the amount of drug activity in the city despite the best efforts of police to stop it.
Residents and leader’s attitudes toward illegal drugs must change if the city wants to change the behavior of addicts, Westendorf said.
“We have to do something. This community has to do something,” he said. “If we don’t change this, we’re going to lose a generation.”
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