Battling opioids: Today’s event in Fairfield hopes to create a ‘compassionate conversation’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

2 Apparent Overdose Victims Found in Ohio Home with 'Thousands of Needles'

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Health care professionals want to have a “compassionate conversation” with those who suffer from addiction, including at today’s addiction forum at Mercy Health - Fairfield’s HealthPlex.

The “Forum on Addiction - Connecting the Community to Hope” — which is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mercy HealthPlex, 3050 Mack Road in Fairfield — is presented by a number of community partners, including the Mercy Health-Fairfield, city of Fairfield, Fairfield Twp., and the Fairfield Opiate Task Force.

It is designed to help lower the county’s overdose deaths, and to have attendees “be our emissaries to the community,” said Fairfield City Councilman Bill Woeste, who started the task force a few years ago.

MORE: Number of Butler County meth deaths, including some mixing with opioids, called ‘disturbing’

“We’ve been doing some work in the opiate space, and the addiction space for a few years now,” said Dr. Navdeep Kang, Mercy Health’s director of Operations for Behavioral Health Services and the event’s keynote speaker.

He will be "sharing the narrative of our journey over the last few years and sharing some tools." One of those tools is, which was initially funded by the Mercy Health Foundation as "a real-time capacity treatment locator," Kang said.

“Anyone can use it to access immediate treatment on demand when someone is ready to get into treatment,” he said.

There have been nearly 1,200 overdose deaths in Butler County since 2012, with more than 70 percent involving opioids.

Martin Schneider, spokesperson for the Butler County Coroner’s Office, said the trend of more methamphetamines in cases so far in 2019 “is disturbing.” There have been 10 deaths related to known methamphetamine cases, and nine of those cases also involved a combination of methamphetamine and at least one type of opioid, he said.

Kang, who will speak for about 20 minutes, will talk broadly about prevention, treatment and harm reduction.

“The prevention work has been quite robust in its own regard just because the more people you prevent from entering the (addiction) space, the better off it is for all of them, and their family members,” he said.

RELATED: How Butler County teams help overdose victims find needed help

Mercy Health is also working with the Ohio High School Athletic Association on prevention, calling it “a tremendous opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of kids.

But a significant effort health systems are working toward is changing the language used, Kang said.

“One of the things we’ve simply tried to change is around language, and try to have the understanding that ‘addict’ is not a good word,” he said.

Instead, medical professionals are beginning to describe people with a substance-use disorder, alcohol-use disorder or opioid-use disorder because Kang said it’s not a moral failing but rather “it’s a chronic health care issue that warrants a health care response.”

“We look at periods of remission and relapse like we do with any other chronic disease,” he said.