To the editor:

Ohio’s opiate epidemic is a concern. A new report was published by the Kaiser Family Foundation showing that Ohio led the nation in opioid overdose deaths. One in nine heroin deaths in the U.S. occurred in Ohio. This report highlighted 2014 overdose numbers and we already know that 2015 outpaced those numbers and the trend has not slowed down in 2016. The headlines throughout the state have continued to show how devastating this addiction can be for individuals, for families, and communities. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about Ohio’s opiate epidemic and the resulting overdose deaths and we should. This is a crisis of epidemic proportion impacting every corner of our state.

But today, we want to talk about the survivors and highlight the hope. We know that an overdose does not have to be a death sentence. Lives can be saved. Treatment for opiate addiction works. People can and do recover. Treatment and recovery are not always easy and the process can be long, but it works. At the end of the day, individuals who have been able to successfully access and engage in treatment and those who have been connected with recovery supports can achieve and sustain long-term recovery in their community. Mothers and fathers are reconnected with children. Children are reconnected with their parents and families. Employees reengage, friendships are revitalized, and communities continue to thrive.

Treatment works. People recover. And Recovery is Beautiful. This sounds like a tagline because it is, but it’s also the truth. As we continue to address this opiate epidemic in Ohio, we all need to come together to share hope every chance we get. It’s going to take all of us working together in every community throughout the state to end this epidemic. We need to focus on prevention, intervention, interdiction, treatment, and recovery. Every sector of society is impacted by this epidemic and it’s going to take every part of every community to develop a solution to this problem.

As we enter 2017, we need a hope for change and a plan for action. Let’s commit now to doing everything we can to help our family, our friends, our colleagues, and our neighbors impacted by opiate addiction. In 2017, let’s change the conversation. Let’s talk about how addiction is a chronic disease of the brain. Let’s talk about how treatment works and people recover. And let’s celebrate those in recovery in our communities and throughout our state! For more information contact The Mental Health, Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Board of Putnam County.

Jennifer Horstman, MSW

Executive Director

Mental Health, Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Board of Putnam County