SOLACE, a group of people who have lost loved ones to drug-related deaths, was invited to speak to statewide media outlets Wednesday morning at the Ohio Statehouse. Scioto County Coroner Dr. Terry Johnson and Portsmouth Health Department nurse Lisa Roberts also participated in the event. SOLACE stands for “Surving Our Loss And Continuing Everyday.”
Courtney Rose spoke on behalf of the group and explained that SOLACE was founded because there were not many support groups available for parents who lost children in drug-related deaths.
“Overdose, or a shooting, or anything drug-related still had a taboo,” Rose said. SOLACE provides that support for people who have experienced the pain of prescription drug abuse first hand.
They also put a face to the problem.
“We created a wall of pictures in the middle of Portsmouth to let everyone know that these are our loved ones,” Rose told the lawmakers and media outlets in attendance. “These are our children, our moms and our dads, our brothers and sisters. ... We lose more people in the State of Ohio each day to prescription overdose than we’ve lost in the Iraq war.”
The wall Rose referred to is SOLACE’s “Be The Wall” display in the window of the Marting’s Building on Chillicothe Street. The display features the photographs of young people who have lost their lives to drug addiction.
Their deaths, Rose said, are something that can never be undone and something that the deceased’s families can never escape. It is a pain that the members of SOLACE are determined to save other parents from, but it is something they know they can not do by themselves.
“All we’re asking is for help. We’ve got to stop this epidemic,” Rose said. “Last year in Scioto County, in some of the local schools there were kids bringing oxycontin into school and trying to sell it. They were in eighth grade. It’s devastating.”
Johnson also spoke to the audience, praising SOLACE for their work and referring to southern Ohio’s drug trade as a “shadow economy.”
“It’s a huge, black market shadow economy that exists right below the surface,” Dr. Johnson said. “That shadow economy eats away at everything that happens in southern Ohio ... any type of economic recovery we try to make, any type of problem we try to solve.”
The press conference was called by State Representatives David Burke and Danny Bubp to announce new legislation designed to help doctors and pharmacists spot suspicious prescriptions and cut off the flow of prescription drugs. Before it began, though, SOLACE met with both representatives in private. The representatives explained the legislation to SOLACE and responded to their questions and concerns about the scourge of prescription drug abuse in southern Ohio.
After the press conference was over, SOLACE founder Jo Anna Krohn said she was pleased with how the event went. Krohn lost her son, Wesley Workman, to a drug-related death two years ago.
“Courtney represented us wonderfully, like I knew she would. I’m impressed by everything and all the attention we’re getting here,” Krohn said. “The things that we have done in the five months that we’ve been doing, this is just amazing. It keeps getting bigger. Nothing would surprise me at this point.”
Moving forward, one of SOLACE’s major goals is to help the group grow beyond the borders of Scioto County. They would like to expand into Adams County and, eventually, the entire state of Ohio.
For more information, visit SOLACE online at www.facebook.com/SOLACE.SurvivingOurLosses
ERIC KEPHAS can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 234 or by e-mail at email@example.com