SPRINGFIELD – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine spoke with local hospital staff and administrators about the statewide opiate problem during a roundtable discussion Tuesday.
The hour-long conference was held at Springfield Regional Medical Center and gave health officials an opportunity to speak on how they are addressing heroin use locally.
“Everybody here cares very passionately about this problem,” DeWine said following the roundtable discussion. “Meetings like this are helpful to me because I can see what’s going on in Clark County and Champaign County and then can maybe take an idea or two from this meeting and share it at the next county I go to. I think it’s also helpful that I can tell the group what I’m seeing statewide as I travel so it’s a sharing of ideas.”
DeWine told the group his office’s traditional role in helping local law enforcement with drugs involves running the state crime lab and a drug task force. When heroin became a large problem across the state, DeWine said a special heroin unit was established to give local law enforcement specialized assistance in dealing with drug investigations.
DeWine said the state will not be able to arrest itself out of the drug problem and added the communities making progress had grassroots efforts to address the problem.
The roundtable discussed options to treat heroin users, local programs available for users and how the medical community is affected by the drug.
DeWine said 10 to 30 years ago it would be rare to find heroin in an area such as Champaign County, but the low cost, availability and lack of education on the drug has contributed to more heroin use. He added the culture against heroin has changed.
“The psychological barrier that told people ‘heroin is bad, I’m not going to do heroin, that’s those crazy people, those are junkies, those are people in Dayton, Columbus’ – that’s gone. That’s culturally gone, so we have to put that back up,” DeWine said.
Bryan Thompson, owner of The Medicine Shoppe in Urbana, attended the roundtable. Thompson said he was interested in participating in the discussion as a member of the health community and as someone who wants to be out front in helping the community.
He said his pharmacy is seeing more requests and prescriptions for treatment drugs and sometimes delivers the drugs to the doctor’s office.
“We were just talking about it the other day as a staff. It continues to escalate every month,” Thompson said. “Being a father of young kids, it’s scary.”
Thompson said he has seen people who have received treatment who are following through and people who have not followed through.
“People who follow through and get the proper education tend to turn their life around and I can see it dramatically and you can tell the ones who are following through,” Thompson said. “Then you get the ones that are sporadic, miss their appointments, miss their prescription, show up later or maybe selling it.”
Through the roundtable, Thompson said, he learned more about treatment programs the hospital provides which could help him know how he can better support the process.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.