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Officials say more education needed to combat addiction

| May 3, 2022

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 3, 2022) – Area prevention say they’re trying to do more to promote the resources available to community members battling addiction after reviewing the county’s latest overdose death totals.

Tuscarawas County Coroner Jeff Cameron released a report last week listing 25 fatal overdoses in the county last year, which is the second-highest total to date. The record was in 2020, when the county experienced 30 drug-related deaths. Ohio Guidestone Executive Director Pam Trimmer, who also chairs the county’s Addiction Task Force, blames the pandemic.

“There was just a lot less accountability and a lot less support, and that mutual support that they get from meetings, so everything kind of shut down on them and creating that isolation just compounded the problem.”

The Tuscarawas County and New Philadelphia health departments offer free kits of the overdose reversal drug naloxone. Trimmer says also Ohio Guidestone operates hotline people battling substance use issues can call or text connect with treatment. It’s called the Hope Line and can be reached at 330-663-6812.

“Sometimes when someone is struggling, when they say ‘I’m ready and I need help’, it’s not a month from now. It’s not a week from now. It’s not waiting for that appointment. They need it in the moment. So that person on the Hope Line can help them access the care they need in the moment.”

Meanwhile, Empower Tusc Coordinator Jodi Salvo says the group is planning to relaunch its Project Hope Initiative that places wooden silhouettes in communities throughout the county to draw attention to the drug crisis we’ve been facing and encourage community members to take action.

“And by taking action, it really is to understand the issue, share resources when you hear about them, and encourage people, whether they’re family members of someone struggling with addiction or it’s the person themselves or supporting people in long-term recovery.”

Trimmer says the task force is considering some more aggressive strategies including getting fentanyl test strips out into the community since more than 85-percent of the last year’s overdose deaths were due to that substance and other synthetic opioids.

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