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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Scioto Doses of Opiates Down 29.6% in Last Five Years


Scioto County



2012 Pain Reliever Doses


Doses Per Capita














This IS the story. In the midst of a prescription drug epidemic, one small. rural, Ohio county of 80,000 inhabitants that was once the epicenter of rx drug abuse formed an Action Team comprised of health professionals, enforcement officers, city and county councils and commissioners, pharmacists, politicians, judges, attorneys, school counselors, rehabilitation/intervention administrators, support groups, church leaders, and, most importantly, grass roots citizens.
In the last five years, committed efforts in Scioto County, Ohio, have helped bring a -29.6% change in doses of opiate pain relievers issued including those popular brands often abused such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. In fact, there were almost 2 million fewer doses of opiate pain relievers in circulation in the county in 2012 compared with two years earlier.

Just a few years ago, ten pill mills (pain clinic operations) in Scioto County were illegally issuing prescriptions and opiates that poisoned locals and those in other states in the region. Thanks to effective strategies of action against prescription abuse, Scioto citizens have helped alleviate the problem. With the assistance of the people, officials from the DEA, Attorney General DeWine's office, and other enforcement agencies have raided these pill mills and shut them down.

Thank God, today no mills are in business in Scioto Country. Criminal owners, doctors, and pharmacists have been apprehended, medical licenses have been suspended, criminal charges have been filed, and court convictions have been rendered. And, the work continues.

Consider that during this same five year period in Ohio, Fulton County experienced a 17.6% increase, Coshocton a 17.3 increase, Hamilton County a 14.7% increase, and Washington County a 14.5% increase. I point that out to show Scioto has had great success with this problem during very addictive times. The prescription drug epidemic originated here, and is now spreading across the country.

Reporter Russ Zimmer of the Chillicothe Gazette interviewed Orman Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, and found:

"Southern Ohio still is the epicenter of prescription drug abuse. Almost all of the top counties for use (as measured by doses per person) are clustered around the southernmost point of Ohio: Lawrence County, whose own rate has plummeted in the past few years to near the state average in 2012.

"However, much of the usage growth in the past few years has been in northwestern Ohio, according to the pharmacy board data. Poison control data presented to the Ohio Attorney General in November showed nonfatal overdoses from opiates had shifted to the east, away from the southern counties.

"Hall said these trends warrant monitoring, but he notes the dosage statistics show an immense spread between high-dose counties and low-dose ones. There are more than three times as many doses per person in Jackson County (the highest in the state) than in Mercer County (the lowest in the state, excepting the Amish-influenced Holmes County).

“'They’re still hovering around 100 doses per person, so at the end of the day I’m still more concerned about Scioto County and other high-dose counties,' Hall reported. 'Ohio has made great progress in acknowledging and working to push back against this form of substance abuse, but the work is far from over.'
“'This is a problem that developed over a period of 15 years, and we’re not going to turn it around overnight,' Hall said."

(Russ Zimmer, "Exclusive: More Work Ahead on Opiates," Chillicothe Gazette, February 16 2012)

Hats Off to Scioto County

It is evident we have more work to do in Scioto County to improve the health epidemic; however, without a concerted effort by so many agencies, groups, and individuals, the county would be on track for total disaster. Considering the long history of ineffective action and the high extent of the infestation of abuse, the "devil" in our homeland had a firm hold -- a grip that contributed to high crime rates, unfit housing, loss of jobs, unacceptable addicted maternity rates, skyrocketing hepatitis infection, and increased dependence on welfare assistance.

Once the extent of abuse was discovered and exposed, people in Scioto County began to address all the issues that relate to Pharmageddon and design effective programs and strategies to reduce prescription drug abuse, which was at the core of so many Appalachian ills. The task was, and continues to be, HUGE. But, the Scioto communities bonded to take one step at a time to defeat their common problems.

Despite considerable resistance to change, these people persevered to gain considerable ground against a deadly enemy and strengthen their numbers to insure future success. They were able to gain support from state and national lawmakers. And, they have been successful in alerting the nation to the biggest drug abuse problem in America that is now spreading in every community across the entire continent.

The efforts of the Action Team in Scioto County have increased national awareness: they have helped others in the United States realize the necessity of fighting the monster of rx abuse by instilling effective proactive measures. Not only has the team shared statistical information with other communities, but also they willingly have provided support for extended organization and action. Soon, Scioto County became an American model of operative action and grass roots support against drug abuse.

It is not appropriate to revel in success when the lifeblood of our community still falls to abuse. Although statistics have improved, prescription drug abuse continues to kill the young and the old. It still debilitates individuals and destroys once-strong families. Babies born addicted are continuing to struggle for their lives in our local hospitals.

Yet, we have learned that every life saved pays blessings untold. Every child and adult who gains knowledge about making good, safe, sober decisions represents a golden asset to our communities. We have learned that inaction and malaise and indifference contribute to failure, and failure causes inadequacies that consume the lives of our residents and make them seek false, fatalistic escapes.

Most of all, we, the people of Scioto County, have learned that we must educate ourselves, improve ourselves, and love ourselves to be of any assistance to others. We knew this even in the worst years of abuse, and yet we somehow forgot our duty to widen our commitment to spread the love.

You see, even within the most loving family is a member that is at risk to abuse. And, that person is counting on all the rest of us, not just his/her immediate family, to help provide him/her with a safe environment full of people that are concerned not with just their close few, but with all others. We have learned we must strive to make this caring county a reality even in the face of impossibility. In addition, we have learned to confront the evil that most threatens good people from prevailing. Now, we understand that, with good cooperation, we can defeat our deadliest foes.

I know Orman Hall, and I believe he is right by saying: "I’m still more concerned about Scioto County and other high-dose counties." I think many of us have strayed from the ways of our proud, independent Appalachian forefathers. Now, we must learn to change negative aspects of our depressing, dependent personalities. Yes, we must continue to pull ourselves to a higher, safer, more sober ground.

I know Mr. Hall understands the hardscrabble existence of people in Scioto County, and he believes the good people here can overcome any problem. As we band our clans together and join people like Orman Hall, we commit ourselves to positive change. And, believe me, nothing is as stubborn or rambunctious as a determined group of hillbillies. Thanks to Mr. Hall for all he does.

Despite the rest of the nation stereotyping us as poor, dirty, white trailer trash inbreds without manners, we are freedom-loving folk and models of self-sufficiency, independence, and perseverance. Our ancestors have survived rough conditions for hundreds of years, and our people are remembered in names like Davey Crockett, Daniel Boone, Jenny Wiley, Ulysses S. Grant, and Alvin York.

And, the one thing every Appalachian understands is the sacred duty to protect his land and his people. We must learn today that guns and fists cannot defeat drug abuse. Nor can threats or warnings. Our best weapons against this enemy are securing accurate knowledge, establishing open communication, being positive role models, and making and enforcing clear rules with tough love.

Today is a great day for Scioto Countians to reflect upon some wonderful accomplishments that we all have helped achieve in the last five years. Still, it is not a time to rest assured that "good things come to people who wait." We continued to try that for over a decade, and we discovered the dirty wages of our inactivity against evil. Greedy hands have no conscience. God bless the warriors who help part the paws of those ravenous beasts from their blood money.

 "In the United States, we now prescribe enough pain pills
to give every man, woman and child one every four hours,
around the clock, for three weeks."
 --Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, November 2012
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