The Your Voice Ohio Washington Court House forum on the opioid epidemic was held Monday evening in the Langley building on South Fayette Street. About 60 people attended the forum.
The forum gave residents from Fayette County space to share their thoughts on the opioid issue, and reporters and journalists from across the state the opportunity to listen to community voices.
A focus was placed on sharing experiences, causes and steps to combating the opioid crisis.
People in attendance included former heroin users, former pain pill users, concerned parents, people who work in drug treatment and recovery, nurses, a county commissioner and a mayor.
A teenager and a 10-year-old also attended the forum; which was different from Sunday’s Your Voice Ohio meeting in Wilmington where no youth attended. However, young people were one of the biggest concerns shared among forum participants in both Washington C.H. and Wilmington forums.
Following introductions, forum participants were asked to write down, “What does the opioid epidemic look like in our community?”, and then share their thoughts around a table with four or five other individuals. Then each group reported something back to the entire forum that came out of their small group conversation. The first group emphasized the youth.
“This is something that starts with the adults and ends with the children,” said a participant named Kelly.
Addressing causes to opioid addiction, several in attendance reiterated that the issue of addiction is a multi-generational problem, affecting people who live in the same household and use or share drugs together, with underlying issues in mental health and poverty.
A former drug user said that while initially a person makes a choice to do drugs, once they are hooked, it progresses into a disease state and no longer becomes a choice but rather a struggle to stay alive. This person said she left Fayette County to “get clean” and felt there are not enough resources in Fayette County to combat the issue.
Another former drug user said she used heroin daily for 10 years and has now been clean for one year and two months. She said, “There’s too much hate in this community and not enough love.”
Her mother, also in attendance, shared, “I watched my child suffer and it’s a terrible thing. There’s too much hate and not enough love,” and said she felt “tough love” was necessary, but not only that: “Feed them, bathe them…take care of them, but don’t give them things here and there to enable them.”
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