By Wayne Allen
For years Scioto County and the surrounding communities have been dealing with the realities of addiction. Although a lot of work has been done to combat this evolving issue, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Ed Hughes, CEO of Compass Community Health has engaged portions of the community in a Lunch and Learn series, talking about the impacts of addiction and what’s being done currently to address the issue. When asked “where we are now” as a community, in terms of addiction, Hughes replied, “I think we’ve made a lot of progress.”
Hughes said Scioto County and surrounding communities have had a long history with the opiate epidemic. He said there are some communities in Ohio recognizing the impact the opiate epidemic is having, or has had, on their community. Some of those same communities are recognizing the need to create drug task forces and health coalitions as well as working to grow their alcohol and drug treatment agencies.
“I think the problem is bigger here, but I think we have had a bigger response to it as well,” Hughes said.
Hughes acknowledged as other parts of the state and country are beginning to deal with this issue, now would be a good time for Scioto County to take the lead, in showing what’s been successful response as a community.
“We have a great message, because there are so many organizations that have stepped up to respond,” Hughes said.
He said this is not an issue the community is beyond, but it’s an issue that’s evolved and the community is still responding.
“You can go to any city in Ohio, they will be talking about heroin and that’s what we’re talking about,” Hughes said. “This is a community health epidemic and at some point we’re expecting heroin use to peak and then start to decline.”
Hughes said if the community continues to create opportunities for treatment and opportunities for those addicted to find jobs and a number of others initiatives the community will be in a better place. Hesaid he was uncertain if or when the community would reach its peak heroin use, because he has not been through anything like this before.
“We’ve all rallied to try and address this problem (opiate epidemic) and have had a dynamic impact because there are a lot of people getting well. At the same time we’re wondering how we are doing to try to help people avoid having the problem to start with,” Hughes said.
As a part of the Lunch and Learn series, Hughes updates participants on the work of Compass Community Health, The Counseling Center and Compass Point Housing and their impact on the community.
For more information about the Lunch and Learn series call Gina Collinsworth at 740-354-3829 ext. 2708.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT