TIPP CITY — Officials from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and the Montgomery County Drug-Free Coalition will host a “Right Now, Right Place” Town Hall Meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Ginghamsburg Church, 6759 S. County Road 25-A, Tipp City.
Speakers will address the magnitude of the heroin/fentanyl epidemic in the area, highlight law enforcement initiatives to reduce the supply of drugs and discuss how residents can help combat the epidemic at this public event, designed to further the Coalition’s mission of promoting a drug-free community.
The sheriff’s office deals with the hard reality on a daily basis. At the last town hall meeting in October, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Rob Streck noted, “This morning there were 46 inmates in the county jail detoxing from opiate withdrawal. When I say detoxing in the county jail, I mean curled up in the fetal position with things coming out of each end; it is painful for them. We medicate them a little bit to make them feel better and we watch them, but it’s a bad way to detox. We are obviously the largest detox center in Montgomery County.”
According to Streck, the overdose problem affects people from all walks of life, all races and all ages.
Shaun Gardner, a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, will share his story of his day-to-day struggle that started at the age of 5. Abuse, neglect and a horrific childhood took him to seven states and through thousands of pills and drinks. Gardner is now a graduate of Joshua Recovery Ministries and attends and serves at Ginghamsburg’s Next Step Recovery Worship. He has been clean for eight months.
“Next Step has allowed me to stay connected with people on the same path as me,” Gardner shared. “I have learned to be accountable and to give my all to God and his will. I have learned to lean on people and to help people no matter what they struggle with because we are all broken.”
“Increasingly, each week the Ginghamsburg Next Step Recovery Ministry receives calls from family members whose loved one’s lives are spiraling out of control due to heroin addiction, desperately seeking help and guidance,” shared Pastor Mike Martin, director of Care and Next Step Recovery. “This epidemic is beyond the resources and efforts of one organization, one state or federal resource or one church. A movement must take root that involves everyone who will pray, serve and battle this plague in our community.”
Overdose deaths have skyrocketed, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department. As more potent forms of heroin hit the streets and people are not aware of its potency, the deaths from overdoses increase. According to the sheriff’s office, in 2013 when fentanyl became more dominant, the death rates from unintentional overdoses increased. Montgomery County leads all 88 counties in the state in the number of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people. Cuyahoga County is the second highest.
In 2016 there were 1,705 overdoses in Montgomery County. As of October 23, 2017 there were 3,284 overdoses. The death rate from overdoses in 2015 was 259; in 2016, 349 and so far this year it is 523, according to the sheriff’s office.
Miami County had recorded 25 drug overdose deaths halfway through the year, according to County Coroner William Ginn. Ginn’s report stated that 10 deaths were attributed to fentanyl as of June 30. Other drugs included cocaine, fentanyl analogs, carfentanyl, hydrocodone, methamphetamine, alcohol, and heroin.
According to a mid-year report from Miami County Public Health, 57 visits to the emergency department were due to drug overdoses.
Information will be available at the town hall meeting on how people can get involved to fight the epidemic; in addition information on foster care will be available. According to a May 2017 report by Channel 2 News, officials with Children’s Services are facing an alarming reality: a growing number of kids who need a temporary home and a shrinking number of foster parents. These kids are the silent victims of the heroin epidemic in the Miami Valley. Several agencies will be on hand to share information about foster care with interested families.
All who attend are invited to bring unused or outdated prescription drugs, for which the sheriff’s office provides a safe and responsible means of disposal.