GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Citizens for Prevention and Recovery gathered with local agencies Tuesday evening in Bossard Memorial Library to discuss the ongoing opioid epidemic in southern Ohio, answer questions of the public and discuss resources available in the immediate area to combat substance abuse.
Past Director of the Gallia County CPR coalition and current Deputy Director of the Gallia-Meigs-Jackson ADAHMS Board Angela Stowers invited members of the public to sit after they perused informational tables of area substance recovery partners and some pizza.
A video CPR had been producing over the past few weeks was unveiled at the event to be used across social media in sharing area statistics and resources for those wishing to combat substance abuse.
Ohio Attorney General’s Office Community Outreach Specialist Carol Baden spoke of state initiatives and strategies approaching the drug problem across the region She said she was pleased to see a coalition like CPR had formed to take on the task of communicating with area agencies to take on the opioid epidemic in a unified manner.
As part of a panel of local experts, both Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin and Prosecutor Jason Holdren answered law enforcement questions before Vinton Elementary Principal Leslie Henry answered questions about drug effects from the academic side of the community. Tara Salyers as an emergency services representative of Holzer Medical Center, described tighter prescription drug practices brought about over the last 10 years to attempt to stem some of the opioid abuse across the state. GKN Sinter Metals HR Officer Gail Hess said it could be difficult for area businesses to hire as drug testing of potential employees was a constant concern. She said GKN had been fortunate in its hiring but had heard other businesses in the area may potentially have eight applicants fail a drug test for every one hired.
Health Recovery Services Rehabilitation Counselor Andrea Sims shared her experiences as an individual who overcame addiction and has been clean from substance abuse for the last three and a half years.
“Treatment is possible and recovery is possible,” said Sims. “I was more of an inpatient. How you go about that is different for everyone. I had to go six months (to a treatment program) … I had actually lived my life almost 15 years as a heroin addict. It progressed and got worse. The things I’ve done to my family … I manipulated everyone in my path … As far as hope, you’ve got to want to change your life. You’ve got to want to put in the effort. It’s not just given to you like a little gift. No one is going to wrap that up and give it to you like here is your sobriety. You have to work at it. As far as a message, my parents never thought I was going to recover … Now (her mother) has a whole other person. I’m different. There is hope and I’m sitting here and there are many people in the room that know me from my old days. I came a long way … The fact I’m sitting here with Matt Champlin and Judge (Margaret) Evans is a miracle. I never thought this (would happen) five years ago.”
Sims said it was important to have a strong support system and that the community could not be judgmental if lives were to be saved.
Sims said she had heard “some really sour things” about criticism over the use of overdose combating drugs like Narcan and how some addicts lives weren’t worth saving.
“I’ve heard plenty of people that’s said we can’t overcome (addiction) and I know plenty of people that have overcome it,” said Sims. “It takes work. I’m still kicking and good to go.”
Gallia County Citizens for Prevention and Recovery meets every second Monday of the month in the French 500 room of Holzer Medical Center at noon. For more information, visit the Gallia Citizens for Prevention and Recovery Facebook page.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.