Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) held a round table discussion with community leaders from Portage, Summit, and Stark counties to discuss the growing heroin and prescription drug epidemic.
Congressman Ryan listened to the concerns and issues the stakeholders are facing. He also discussed the Breaking Addiction Act of 2015 legislation he introduced with Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) and Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) which looks to increase the number of addiction treatment beds.
“I hope that this meeting is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue with local professionals who encounter this issue every day,” said Congressman Ryan. “We need a comprehensive solution that will increase and expand access to treatment for those who are suffering and help prevent future overdoses and fatalities. I will continue my work in Congress to support legislation that will make this possible.”
Portage County Health Commissioner Joseph Diorio and Mental Health & Recovery Board Director of Community Relations Karyn Hall spoke about the addiction treatment services available and not available in Portage and naloxone distribution.
“In Portage County we’ve seen the drug deaths due to accidental overdose climb – from 5 people in 2011 to 30 people died in 2015,” said Hall. “We talk to family members every day whose lives have been destroyed by this epidemic.”
The Portage County Health Department has recently expanded the Project DAWN program to include law enforcement and first responders. Police officers are often the first to a scene due to an emergency call or as a result of an ordinary course of patrol.
Project Dawn is a community-based drug overdose prevention and education program. It provides Naloxone kits to friends, family, and community members who are in a position to help someone nearing an overdose and preventing a death through the Portage County Health Department with funding from the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.