Opioid Epidemic

Allison Herrera/PRI / PRI

It’s a chilly March afternoon in Marysville, Ohio, and I’m riding around on a golf cart with Clara Golding Kent, the public information officer for the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

It’s right after "count," when officials make sure the women serving time at Ohio's oldest prison are where they're supposed to be. Just now, the women here are heading to lunch, jobs and classes, or socializing in the yard.

The Franklin County Coroner's Office has recorded a "dramatic increase" in overdose deaths, a total of 18 in one week.  

In a refrigerator in the coroner’s office in Marion County, Indiana, rows of vials await testing. They contain blood, urine and vitreous, the fluid collected from inside a human eye. In overdose cases, the fluids may contain clues for investigators. 


U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar with Brigid's Path Executive Director, Jill Kingston (right) and foster parent and advocate Cyndi Swafford.
Jerry Kenney

United States Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was in Dayton Friday to attend a listening session on opioids at Brigid’s Path in Kettering, an inpatient treatment facility that specializes in caring for drug-exposed newborns.

 

Following morning discussions, Azar reaffirmed to reporters the Trump administration’s commitment to fighting the opioid crisis.

 

On Tuesday, Montgomery County Judge Anthony Capizzi will lead a national panel discussion in Washington D.C. before Congressional leaders and legislative aides. The focus of the briefing is to raise awareness about the struggles many communities face as a result of the opioid epidemic.

 

Capizzi serves as president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. The council, made up of judges from across the country, will also inform officials about local approaches to the crisis that are showing success.

When President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in late October, it triggered a regulatory change intended to make it easier for people to get care in places with provider shortages. This declaration allows for the prescribing  of addiction medicine virtually, without doctors ever seeing the patient in person. (The regulatory change is not fully implemented until the DEA issues further rules.)

 


Karen Kasler

It’ll be a while before the state puts out new official numbers on Ohio’s deadly opioid crisis. However, the federal Centers for Disease Control says it has new stats that show the epidemic is nowhere close to slowing down.

The CDC says the number of deadly overdoses in Ohio soared 39 percent from July of 2016 to last July. That’s more than twice as much as the national increase in deadly overdoses in that same period.

The Your Voice Ohio initiative brings together Ohioans from all walks of life, to brainstorm homegrown solutions to the opioid crisis.
Jess Mador / WYSO

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.

Though the shops along Sullivant Avenue in Columbus, Ohio had all closed their doors one cold November night, a young woman walked alone down the alley behind the Seventh Day Adventist Church. She was petite and wore lipstick, a tweed coat and blue jeans torn at the knee.


Your Voice Ohio: Using Death To Quantify Compassion

Feb 1, 2018

This commentary is part of Your Voice Ohio, 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. 

Learn more about the project and how you can get involved. 

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