Dozens of family members, advocates, recovering addicts and others affected by opioids shared their stories and experiences Sunday afternoon at a special community meeting held at the downtown branch of the Dayton Public Library.
The event was part of a unique project WYSO is participating in called Your Voice Ohio. The goal of the collaborative initiative is to bring Ohioans from all walks of life together, to brainstorm homegrown solutions to the opioid crisis.
The epidemic is responsible for at least 4,000 deaths across the state each year, health data show. And Southwest Ohio’s overdose crisis remains among the worst in the nation.
Barb Marsh, assistant to the health commissioner at Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County, participated in the meeting.
Marsh says she'd like to see more of a spotlight on some of the innovative work being done to address addiction in Montgomery County. She points to the collaborative, multi-agency Community Overdose Action Team launched more than a year ago as one example.
“We need to continue to talk about it. Encourage people to remain non-judgemental to those that are addicted, and that there is hope, that people do recover from addiction," she says. "We need to get more stories out in the community about that people do recover and to help reduce stigma.”
While there's still a long way to go to bring opioid addiction and overdose-death rates down from the historic highs seen last year, she says, the intensive city-county emergency response to the crisis is showing promise.
The most recent Montgomery County numbers show there have been at least 33 deaths due to drug overdose this year, a drop over the same time the year before. Last year, 562 people died related to a drug overdose in Montgomery County.
Participants at the library event were divided into small groups and asked to explore three main questions:
-What does the opioid epidemic look like in our community?
-What do we see as causes of the epidemic in our community?
-What steps might we take to combat the opioid epidemic?
People's responses were collected, and will be analyzed this spring by a team of researchers helping to coordinate Your Voice Ohio. The responses will also help inform WYSO's ongoing coverage of the opioid epidemic and responses to it.
Learn more about the project and how you can get involved.
There are more community meetings scheduled for the coming weeks in the Miami valley. The events are free and open to the public, but you must RSVP. See the list of events below.
Upcoming community meetings on the opioid epidemic:
Middletown – 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, Midpointe Library, 125 S. Broad St., Middletown.
To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-opioid-epidemic-in-middletown-tickets-42134882568
Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1590933337681262/
East Cincinnati (Madisonville) – 6:30-8:30 Tuesday, Feb. 13, Madisonville Recreation Center, 5320 Stewart Ave., Cincinnati.
To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-opioid-epidemic-in-east-cincinnati-tickets-42137215546
Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/177431726342191/
Wilmington/Clinton County – 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, Wilmington Municipal Building, 69 N. South St., Wilimington.
To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-opioid-epidemic-in-wilmington-tickets-42137738109
Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/370502220081769/
Washington Court House/Fayette County – 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, LaFayette Room, 133 S. Fayette St., Washington Court House.
To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-opioid-epidemic-in-washington-court-house-tickets-42137696986
Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/436928800055919/
Your Voice Ohio is a collaborative effort to produce more relevant, powerful journalism based on the needs and ambitions of Ohioans and Ohio communities. Your Voice Ohio is an initiative of WYSO and more than 30 news organizations across Ohio. We’re beginning with the opioid epidemic and will let the public guide us from there.