After next month’s drug addiction forum, organizers hope attendees “can be our emissaries to the community.”
Drug addiction has crippled Butler County, just as it has the country and state, officials said. Nearly 1,200 overdose deaths have happened in Butler County since 2012, with more than 70 percent of those deaths involving opioids.
So far in 2019, there have been 48 known or suspected fatal overdoses, according to the Butler County Coroner’s office.
“We currently have identified opioids in 16 cases. Most of our toxicology results are not yet back so the overall trend for the county is still being shaped for 2019,” said coroner spokesperson Martin Schneider.
“However, the trend of the prevalence of methamphetamine in our cases so far is disturbing.”
Of the known cases, the coroner’s office has identified methamphetamine in 10, and nine of those 10 involved a combination of methamphetamine and at least one type of opioid, Schneider said.
Fairfield City Councilman Bill Woeste hopes the May 8 “Forum on Addiction - Connecting the Community to Hope” will help bring the county’s overdose deaths down.
“The more people we can get there then they can be our emissaries to the community and get that word back out there to their individual neighborhoods,” he said.
Overdose deaths have trended upward since 2012, peaking at 232 deaths in 2017. Overdose deaths dropped to 164 in 2018 and through Wednesday morning, there were 48 overdose deaths in 2019.
About half of the forum will be a question and answer panel discussion, which Woeste said is important “because people need to have an opportunity to ask questions and get some answers.”
Mercy Health are “staunch supporters” of the task force, and it’s mission, said Shane Knisley, interim North Market president for Mercy Health – Cincinnati.
“At this forum, people can come and get information on addiction, be it learning about addiction or resources to support them,” he said.
Dr. Navdeep Kang, Mercy Health’s director of Operations for Behavioral Health Services, will be the event’s keynote speaker, but Woeste said the forum will feature personal stories of two or three former addicts.
“Once you hear those stories, it’s not hard to jump on the bandwagon,” he said. “It’s incredible how hard these people have tried to fight this disease off, and that’s the whole issue is to get to the point and recognize that this is a disease and not a moral failing.”
The May 8 forum is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mercy HealthPlex, 3050 Mack Road in Fairfield. Those involved in the addiction forum include the Fairfield Opiate Task Force, city of Fairfield, Fairfield Twp., Fairfield Community Foundation, Fairfield Prevention Coalition, Butler County General Health District, and Butler County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Board.
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FACTS & FIGURES
Nearly 1,200 people have died from a drug overdose since 2012 in Butler County. Here’s how many have died over the past few years (with opioid and meth-related deaths in parenthesis)
2016: 192 (149, 8)
2017: 232 (191, 45)
2018: 164 (135, 59)
2019*: 48 (16, 10)
*2019 overdose death numbers are still preliminary, and nine of the 10 people who died from methamphetamine had at least one opioid in their system as well.
Source: Butler County Coroner’s Office
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