Elected officials and community leaders gathered this afternoon at the Reeb Avenue Center on Columbus’ south side to unveil a new plan to address the ongoing opiate addiction and overdose crisis. The Franklin County Opiate Action Plan was created by the Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (ADAMH) at the direction of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther.
“The scourge of opiate addiction has hit our community particularly hard,” said Board of Commissioners President, John O’Grady. “It has ruined lives in every corner of our community, and we owe it to the residents of Franklin County to work together to address this epidemic with prevention and education efforts, reducing addiction risks, improving access to treatment, and equipping first responders.”
More than 250 Central Ohio residents died of accidental drug overdoses last year, and about eight die each day across the state from overdose. Unintentional drug overdose is the leading cause of injury-related death for Ohioans, and the numbers have increased steadily in recent years. The Opiate Action Plan released today focuses on four overarching goals: preventing opiate abuse and addiction, reducing the number of opiate-related deaths, expanding access for treatment, and improving the safety of our community.
“Fighting the opioid crisis must be a collaborative effort,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “The Opiate Action Plan brings together people from many areas to strike at the causes and work toward prevention and safety throughout the community.”
To create the new plan, ADAMH collaborated with stakeholders from across the region, and gathered input from more than 100 experts as well as from people in recovery and family members of residents who have died from an overdose. The plan calls for the creation of a steering committee made up of local stakeholders such as the Central Ohio Hospital Council, Franklin County Children Services, Columbus Public Safety, the Central Ohio Mayors and Managers Association, and public health agencies, and identifies specific actions for each of the next three years to address each of plan’s overarching goals.
“Our entire community takes this public health crisis very seriously. We met with families, healthcare workers, elected officials, counselors, police officers, EMS workers, business owners, judges, and many more. This plan gives us the opportunity to combine our resources and prioritize our efforts to save as many lives as possible. Many of the actions outlined in this plan will be completed this year,” said ADAMH CEO David A. Royer.
The city and county are working together to fund full-time staff to coordinate putting the Opiate Action Plan into effect, and envision that staff working under the purview of Columbus City Council. Action items for 2017 include community forums to educate and facilitate neighborhood conversations about the opiate epidemic, ensuring an adequate supply of naloxone and organizing drug take-back efforts, and creating an addiction stabilization center offering crisis intervention, detoxification, and intensive treatment for people who have experienced a life-threatening overdose.
“For decades, drug addiction has ravaged communities across our country,” said City Council President, Zach Klein. “It has largely gone unnoticed and untreated, particularly in communities of color. Today, the rise in heroin usage, overdoses and drug-related deaths have abnormally spiked, destroying neighborhoods and families, stressing our health systems and emergency responders. While it’s heroin today, tomorrow will bring a new drug of choice. That’s why we asked ADAMH to develop a comprehensive blueprint to tackle drug addiction. Whether it’s community education or access to treatment, we must build a successful model that helps all individuals now and in the future.”
To download the full Franklin County Opiate Action Plan, visit https://adamhfranklin.org/opiateactionplan
. If you or someone you love needs help with opiate addiction, call 614-276-CARE (adults) or 614-722-9372 (17 & under).