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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reinstate Paul Vernier: Year and One-Half and No Charges

Thursday, September 25, 2014, officials from several local and federal agencies executed a raid on the drug treatment facilities of Paul Vernier.  These officials confiscated property from his Community Counseling Treatment Services Center in Ironton, Ohio, as well as his two facilities in Portsmouth, and they ransacked his home.

The federal and state investigators were looking into the clinic's practices at these locations in Scioto and Lawrence counties in Ohio. They sought evidence in a drug trafficking and money laundering case they said has been in the works for more than a year. "It's what happens in a facility like this," said one employee, who wouldn't tell his name. 

The authorities said the owner of all the clinics, Vernier, and his staff took part in illegal activity including drug trafficking, money laundering, insurance fraud and forging prescriptions.

Well, readers, it will be A YEAR AND ONE-HALF this March 25, 2016, and Mr. Vernier has not been charged of any wrongdoing. Investigators still hold most of Paul Vernier's property they seized -- both personal and business property. In effect, they have done everything they can to ruin the reputation and the livelihood of a man who went to extraordinary measures to help his community. It is time to stop this witch hunt and restore Vernier's life and his business.

In Scioto County, it is evident that those with political power have used their influence to manipulate enforcement. There is much speculation about who is responsible for the charges and why they falsely accused Vernier of the charges; however, the damage has been done. What resulted is a pity and a miscarriage of justice.

Not only have the allegations destroyed the Vernier family, but these charges have shut down treatment centers and resulted in the unfortunate mistreatment of his clients.

Let's not mince words here: Due to lack of professional treatment, numerous people in Scioto County have died of opioid overdose.

It is fair to assume the blood of the innocents is primarily on the hands of the accusers. No reader of this blog needs a review of the desperate straits of Scioto County, a place in the grip of a full-scale health epidemic largely related to opioid abuse.

I believe one thing is crystal clear. This raid and subsequent shutdowns were about Suboxone treatment ... its controversial use and its control by sanctioned facilities. Many still oppose using the substance to treat opioid addiction calling it "trading one addictive drug for another." I wonder how many would question the use of Suboxone in such a controlled, monitored setting for a severe heroin or prescription opioid addict? Please consider the alternative if the addict is your loved one. The treatment or death?

The FDA has approved Suboxone for long-term maintenance therapy that allows patients to try to resume and maintain normal, productive lives despite the stigma and activities associated with drug treatments. By combining the antagonist naloxone with the buprenorphine, the potential for abuse and addiction is greatly reduced in the use of Suboxone.

In fact, for all opioid addicts, Suboxone can present a viable option. According to three U.S. trials, the use of the key ingredient in Suboxone, buprenorphine, helps to reduce opiate use, retain patients in treatment and presents few side effects. All three studies compared this treatment against the use of methadone and the conclusion suggested that buprenorphine be used as a first line of treatment.

None other than Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, says this about a large-scale study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) ...

“The study suggests that patients addicted to prescription opioid painkillers can be effectively treated in primary care settings using Suboxone.”

Many people besides me remain convinced that Vernier had operated a legal, extremely beneficial business that greatly aided the drug counseling communities in the Tri-state. We have too few treatment centers, and this lack of resources contributes to our county's poor health ranking -- still among the very lowest in Ohio.

How can someone just destroy a person's home and businesses like this and still not find cause for charges after a year and a half? Are the authorities trying to make some kind of deal with Vernier to ease the burden of the damage they have needlessly caused? It is a question that must be considered since government officials do anything to "save face" after they commit grievous mistakes.

Let me conclude by reminding the readers that Paul Vernier, after suffering with his own personal struggles, dedicated his life to helping others suffering from drug abuse. He is a military veteran, a graduate with two college degrees in the field of drug counseling, and a Christian described by many of his patients as an "angel of mercy."

For the sake of us all, I ask the officials in charge of the allegations to return Vernier's property and to reinstate his right to make a living doing what he knows -- saving the lives of his clients. Those who call this long delay "justice" should redefine their conception of due process. Paul Vernier and his entire family have endured the pain and suffering far, far too long. It should stop immediately. In fact, they should be reimbursed for the damage done.

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