Fairfield aims to find answers to opioid crisis during forum tonight

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Fairfield aims to find answers to opioid crisis during forum tonight

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The Fairfield Opiate Task Force, Mercy Hospital, Fairfield Community Foundation and the city of Fairfield are partnering to present the Fairfield Forum on Heroin and Opiate Addiction on Tuesday, Oct. 24. Organizers hope the problem and possible solutions to the issue can be discussed and presented at the forum that’s open to the public. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

About 8,000 notices were delivered in Fairfield advertising tonight’s forum on heroin and opiate addiction.

About 6,000 were placed on pizza boxes and another 2,000 stickers went out on coffee cups at a handful of local businesses around the city.

“The idea came out of one of our meetings on how to get the word out (about the forum),” said Fairfield City Councilman Bill Woeste, who started the Fairfield Opioid Task Force last year. “It seemed like a genius idea.”

Tonight’s forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at Mercy HealthPlex, 3050 Mack Road, will be a community conversation to discuss what solutions may be available to combat the issue.

“We hope to significantly raise the awareness,” Woeste said of tonight’s forum.

The heroin and opioid epidemic has significantly impacted Butler County. More people are dying from drug overdoses than any other cause in Butler County, according to the coroner.

During the first four months of 2017, the coroner investigated 175 deaths in Butler County, according to Dr. Lisa Mannix’s office. Of those 175 deaths, 96 were fatal drug overdoses.

Mannix said 2016 saw the most drug overdose deaths in Butler County’s history with 192. If the trend continues, Butler County will see a 50 percent increase in total overdose deaths from 2016, she said.

First responders will be attending tonight’s event in Fairfield as well as locally elected officials and drug prevention experts. Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from families impacted by drug overdoses and drug overdose deaths.

The drug problem has also had a significant impact on the business community, said Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Kert Radel, who helped get pizza restaurants to place the flyers on carryout boxes.

“There might me a tight job market, but there are several applicants who cannot get a job because of their drug dependency,” Radel said. “It’s having a real impact in the fact that employers are looking for employees they can depend upon.”

“I’m hoping there is a better understanding of how huge the problem is,” he said of tonight’s forum. “Too many times people think it’s an inner city problem. But it’s a problem everywhere.”

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