Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
SOLACE (Surviving Our Loss And Continuing Everyday) welcomed the community inside their home on Saturday for a special open house at their new location, at 1603 11th St., in Portsmouth. Formerly located on Scioto Trail, Joanna Krohn, of SOLACE, said they were looking for a newer building with more visibility and access for the public.
“The Counseling Center was leasing it, and they had just moved out into the Scudder School Building. I drove by and saw it, and I called, and it just happened. Within a day, we were moving,” Krohn said. “Now that we’re here, we can open this up to other groups in the community. We have the AmVets who come here and have meetings, AA and NA, and of course SOLACE. We are now able to have meetings every week and we’re even going to expand farther than that. But being open like this, people are able to come in anytime.”
The group moved to their new office on 11th Street in early July, and on Saturday they celebrated with a public open house. They were joined by The Counseling Center, Self-Refind, Community Counseling Center, Charlie Norman from the Ohio Attorney General’s office, and guest speaker State Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson.
“Our pill mill problem goes back a long way,” Johnson said. “Knocking out the pill mills did not automatically unaddict people. So we had large numbers of people addicted with nice little bottles of pills that could be got from your doctor and pharmacist, and when all those pills went away, those people were addicted. Today people say, ‘What good did you do? We had all those people addicted to pain pills, and now they’re addicted to heroin!’ Yeah, they are. They always were. The fact that they were addicted was the problem. They don’t magically become unaddicted.”
Johnson said he saw firsthand the problem of prescription drug abuse and overdoses when he was Scioto County Coroner, and he tried to tell the state and national media about the problem, but nobody was listening — until SOLACE emerged. Now the group has 18 chapters in the state of Ohio, and one in California.
“That was when the tide turned. That was when the community actually came together and was joining arms and demanding that something be done and putting an end to the pill mills. I give SOLACE and the families of those who died from prescription drugs, I give them huge amounts of credit for what we’ve been able to achieve,” Johnson lauded.
But even then, he said, people still attacked the group online, and he said it’s time we rose above that behavior.
“I watched in horror as Joanna and the other ladies were attacked by people on Facebook, for daring to do something about the prescription drug problem. It was amazing, the venom that you saw. I hoped it would die out; I hoped it would go away, but I’m telling you it still exists. It’s inexplicable” Johnson said.
At their new office on 11th Street, Kathy Newman — chairman of the SOLACE board of directors — is available to help anyone who comes inside. She said they want to drop the stigma of addiction, and show that they can recover and become decent, productive members of society. There is also a new spiritual advisor at the new office.
“Even after the pill mills shut down, people thought we’ve taken care of the major problem and we can relax, but that’s not true. There’s still much more to do,” Krohn said. “We’re here to say, if you’re trying to recover we’re here to help you. We love you and we’ll support you. We give support to somebody who has lost someone to a drug related death, and that’s part of the equation that you don’t get at other places; the grief support.”
Part of the funding for SOLACE comes from state grants, which Krohn said have been cut almost in half this year. To help make up the difference, she said SOLACE is going to begin hosting bingo nights at the American Legion.
More information about SOLACE can be found online at www.drugfreeactionalliance.org/SOLACE, and on Facebook.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.