To grow up and to grow old here in Gallia County are true blessings. The world changes fast in a lot of ways, but much of what makes Galla unique is that while change comes, what does not change is that the people here continue to stand for what is important and strive to make a difference for the good of others.
There is much for which we have to be thankful, yet the challenges that we are facing as a community continue to be daunting. The COVID-19 crisis has impacted, of course, our community like all others. I am proud to see how most of our people work for the common good when so much of the world remains divided.
When I look at our health professionals, case workers, mental health providers, drug counselors and emergency management people, I am struck by how they persevere, although I see their exhaustion. I know that my fellow pastors are weary also in the care of their congregations. I recognize, too, the stress endured by those in law enforcement and observe the tiredness of those in our local government agencies. In fact, the majority of our people are bearing burdens that have had to be carried for far longer than any would have guessed.
All of this means that there is a lot of room for people to derail from things they should do. It means that instead of progressing, people often regress. It means those in various kinds of treatment for mental health concerns or drug use disorders are very vulnerable to choices that can cost them their lives.
Of great concern, naturally, is the fact that our small community is still suffering the cataclysmic effects of the opioid/addiction epidemic. People are using substances in unprecedented ways and so people are dying. There are many families who never imagined drugs could a part of their story, yet have been ripped apart by them. For some families, drug use has become multi-generational bringing with it shock waves that are passed on from parents to children to grandchildren who suffer cycles of loss and trauma as a result.
Treatment is as critical as ever. Treatment can be a factor for saving lives and changing the course of a person’s path from tragedy to triumph. And treatment is available. We have many wonderful providers in our area who can help those who are struggling right now. Not only is drug counseling available, but so also are other types of support including mental health, support groups, and medical and health services that can help mediate and in some cases reverse the damage inflicted by drug abuse and addiction. There are several ministries in our area sponsored by some amazing churches also that have been a very strong support for people seeking God’s help in turning their lives around! And for those who are facing criminal charges and are ready to stop the cycles of self-destruction and want the support and accountability, our small community has a blessing that many communities do not have: that of drug court programs (specialized dockets) in both our Gallia Court of Common Pleas and our Gallipolis Municipal Court.
Finally, it was recently brought to my attention that for those who cannot access in-person the help they need (due, for instance, to social distancing requirements), Senator Rob Portman’s office has proposed the TREATS Act, a new bill that should expand and make permanent telehealth options for addiction treatment services. This does not replace in-person treatment, but allows for sustained help for those who would not receive help otherwise. For those who are having trouble getting in-person treatment, telehealth options are essential for getting the care they need right now. It is hoped that Congress will pass Senator Portman’s bill soon in order to help save lives.
Again, living in Gallia County is a blessing and the people of Gallia County are worth fighting for. My hope is that those who need help are ready to receive it and the rest of us remain ready to help them connect to it.
I pray for God’s healing for the people of Gallia County and pray that we all be open to how He would use us as instruments of that healing.
Thom Mollohan is chair of the Gallia Citizens for Prevention and Recovery.