War on Drugs Rally to be held Saturday in Butler County


WHAT: The War on Drugs Rally aims to raise awareness of overdose and to reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

WHEN: 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27.

WHERE: Hamilton Government Building, 345 High St., Hamilton

Organizers of Saturday's War on Drugs Rally say their timing couldn't be more appropriate, given the spike in drug overdoses in the Cincinnati area.

The event is scheduled to begin at noon in front of the City Government Building, 345 High St.

Tammi Norris, one of the organizers of the event, said with all of the drug activity and overdoses being reported in the area, the event is even more important.

“The information about drug abuse is out there and everybody sees it and we can’t run from it anymore,” Norris said. “It is important to keep educating people and to make sure we continue to put up a fight with all the resources we have.”

Casey Proffitt is another concerned resident who is leading the rally. Proffitt said there will be speakers at the event sharing their stories about addiction and plenty of educational resources that can help addicts find the treatment they need.

She said there will also be a march from downtown Hamilton to the High-Main Street bridge Saturday afternoon, where there will be a prayer chain and balloon launch as a show of solidarity in the fight to curb drug abuse.

Kim Sefton is a Butler County mother who lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2015. She is now a heroin awareness advocate and a leader for a nonprofit organization called H20 — Heroin To Overcome thru Awareness & Prevention. She is supportive of events like Saturday’s rally because keeping the information about drugs in the public eye is critical to fighting abuse, she said.

“I can name at least 10 young people who have died or are struggling and a few older people as well. It is an epidemic and problem everywhere,” said Sefton, whose son died from heroin last year.

Hamilton Mayor Patrick Moeller said he supports any type of event that helps shed light on and fight drug abuse.

“I personally support any awareness project or educational initiative to combat drug abuse and to encourage young people to be smart and not even experiment with drugs of abuse,” Moeller said. “The local Opiate Task Force; Butler County Coalition for a Healthy, Safe, and Drug-Free Community; and grass roots programs created by folks like Charlie Niles and Kim, which draw strength from personal experience, are important in our community.”

The Butler County Coroner's Office said 189 people died from drug overdoses in 2015, and 149, or 79 percent, were heroin-related — including heroin, fentanyl or a combination of both.

Laura Sheehan, vice president of Behavioral Health for Community First Solutions, said the drug narcan is helping save lives, and there our treatment programs growing in the Butler County area to help with the war on drug abuse. But the battle is just beginning and is a long way from being won.

“The scary thing is is that the drug dealers are cutting the heroin with animal tranquilizers now and there is no better advertisement out there for an addict then when they hear this,” Sheehan said. “Your true addict says ‘I want what he had.’ That is terrifying. I think it is going to get a whole lot worse.”

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