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Speakers address opioid crisis concerns at panel meeting

| September 20, 2019


COSHOCTON – About 100 community members gathered at KOA on Thursday evening, Sept. 19 to discuss the opioid crisis in Coshocton. Taking Action Opioid Crisis in Coshocton was led by panelist Dr. Robert Gwinn. Other speakers for the event were Leane Rohr from the Coshocton County Drug Free Coalition, Captain Dean Hettinger of the sheriff’s office, Jennifer Long of Coshocton Behavioral Health Choices, and Chris Gallagher from Allwell.

Dr. Gwinn talked briefly about how opioids were first developed in the 1800s and became popular after the Civil War when they were used to treat pain from soldiers’ wounds. In the early 1900s, heroin was developed in Germany and was even used for infants who were teething.

“When these new products came out, everyone thought wow this is great and then after a couple of years, they found out that they weren’t so great,” said Gwinn.

Opioids go into the system and block pain receptacles in the brain, causing a euphoria. The addiction happens when the amount of opioids taken are not enough to cause that euphoria leading to more drugs needed for the same affect.

“If you have surgery, this is the kind of stuff you want, but you want to get off of it and away from it as quickly as you can,” said Gwinn.

Gwinn briefly discussed the various types of opioids and how they have seen a growth in Coshocton County over the last several years of these modified drugs.

“There are tons of narcotics on the street, tons of people addicted, and tons of money to be made on the street,” said Gwinn.

According to Gwinn, statistics from the Washington Post state that from the mid-1990s through present day, there have been 400,000 deaths in overdoses.

“It is a serious health care issue and it’s not just the guys down in the ghetto,” said Gwinn. “It’s everywhere.”

Gwinn also talked about Narcan that reverses the effects of opioids and Vivtrol that is a medication used to help curb the cravings of opioids.

A former drug addict then stood up and said that her hometown has been completely destroyed by drugs and she moved to Coshocton to start over in a better community. She urged those who were there that something needed to be done in Coshocton before it turns into what her hometown has become.

Rohr then stood and talked about community readiness in relation to fighting the drug epidemic. She said that parents don’t talk to their children about prescription drug misuse. After conducting a survey of students seventh through 12th grade, she said that parents need to talk with their children more.

“We originally thought we needed to educate these kids,” said Rohr. “We need to tell them why not to use. Then we started looking at the data from these surveys and said, no we need to talk to the parents.”

The Drug Free Coalition has cards available with questions to help parents start the conversation with their children. She urged parents and grandparents to lock up all prescribed medications.

“Sometimes it’s not even about the topic,” said Rohr. “It’s just opening the conversation to get the kids talking.”

Capt. Hettinger of the sheriff’s office gave the growing statistics of drug use in the county. In 2016, the sheriff’s office participated in 84 drug buys from 41 dealers, and in 2017, dealers more than doubled with 144 drug buys from 85 dealers. In 2018, there were 71 dealers and 160 drug buys, and so far in 2019, there have been 60 drug buys from 30 dealers. Hettinger also talked about the drop box at the sheriff’s office where people can drop off old medications. He also talked about the quick response team who are people of faith and other volunteers who talk with those who are struggling with addiction.

Long talked about services offered at Coshocton Behavioral Health Choices.

“When you watch somebody come to you and they’re in their 20s, and they can’t even tell you their name, they are so sick and so down, it is heartbreaking,” said Long. “You just sit there and talk to them and suddenly, their fog is lifted, and they start to tell you about their story.”

Long said that CBHC is there to help people along their journey.

“It’s a new journey for them and that’s what we’re there for,” said Long. “These patients are our brothers and sisters. They’re somebody’s baby.”

Gallagher was the last to speak before the door prizes and question and answer session. She travels to hospitals to see people who are in crisis.

“To be in the hospital and begging people to go to treatment, and then six weeks later you hear that they died from an overdose, it’s just heartbreaking,” said Gallagher.

She also goes into the jail to see people who are incarcerated.

“We are trying to grab people when they’re down and hope they listen,” said Gallagher.

The event was sponsored by Community Hospice and Gentlebrook Home Health Services.

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About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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