GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Health Department syringe exchange program is seeing less people coming in to exchange for clean syringes.
According to Tasha Alvaro of the Gallia Health Department at a Gallia Citizens for Prevention and Rehabilitation meeting Monday, the department is seeing approximately 50 to 60 people a week for the exchange program, down from 80 to 100 last year.
“I like to think (the decrease) is because we have more people in treatment,” said Alvaro. “The combination of that and the changeover in local law enforcement, which many people have voiced as a positive change.”
Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin had input on the change as well. He explained that the probation departments are seeing an increase in methamphetamine use as opposed to needle based heroin use.
“We’re seeing an increase in methamphetamine use as far as our probation departments in their drug screens,” said Champlin. “I don’t know that you can really dictate why that is. My guess is that some people are veering away from heroin and steering towards meth for fear of the overdoses and fear of the carfentanyl.”
Champlin also warned against the fear of an increase in local meth lab production because much of the drug is not being produced locally, but, instead, being trafficked from Columbus and likely Mexico into the area.
“We’re not seeing an increase in meth labs. Our traffic interdiction teams along U.S. 35 are doing more seizures of pure crystal meth,” said Champlin. “The people that produce it in the one pot method can’t produce the purity of what they can buy coming down from Columbus.”
Champlin said that users of the drug are seeking a more pure product and it is becoming more readily available to them. This will prove to be another challenge for the sheriff’s office to take on in its war on drug traffickers.
Gallia County Citizens for Prevention and Rehabilitation consists of area nonprofits such as God’s Hands at Work, the Field of Hope Community Campus, as well as behavioral health organizations such as Wing Haven, Health Recovery Services, the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, the Gallia County Prosecutor’s Office, Gallipolis Neighborhood Watch, Holzer Health System, Gallipolis City Commission, the Gallia County Health Department and more. The coalition meets the second Monday of every month at noon in the Holzer Medical Center French 500 room.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342.