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Warren community members, officials and local journalists meet for opioid talk

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

By Renee Fox

Special to The Vindicator

Warren

The community has been dealing with the effects of the opioid crisis every day for years. People want answers and solutions that materialize into change.

People in recovery and their family members and parties interested in seeing a change in their neighborhoods made their voices heard Monday as journalists from four of the region’s major news providers sat down with them and started taking notes.

The discussion was the second of three meetings organized by the Your Voice Ohio media collaboration with participation from editors and reporters from the Tribune Chronicle, The Vindicator, 21 WFMJ-TV and 89.7 WKSU/National Public Radio.

Many of the attendees were thankful several officials from Warren and Trumbull County attended the forum, but noted the lack of police officers, corrections officers, lawmakers and doctors at the meeting.

One woman asked: “No matter how many ideas people have to reduce deadly substance use, support people in recovery, or hold prescribers responsible, how will anything change if the people in charge of making those decisions aren’t listening?”

Participants collectively suggested that if resources spent on arresting and jailing users and low-level dealers were put toward recovery centers, early education, support for families dealing with ramifications of abuse, and programs that encourage recovery, the area could lift the veil on the addiction problem.

But there is no area 24-hour treatment option where a user can go instead of jail right after arrest.

“You might have a two-hour window to get someone you love into treatment,” said Linda Spies with Solace of the Valley. “If you find your kid and get him in your car, you need a bed right then or it is not going to happen. You have two hours until they start feeling sick.”

“Or two hours until they start thinking, doubting the choice,” said Alexis Graziano of Girard, who has nearly five months of sobriety.

There are other issues with treatment.

“Even though I was sober, I was living on the streets. I didn’t have money. I didn’t know how to jump through all of the hoops to get help. I knew I needed help, but I hadn’t been using, so they wouldn’t let me in for treatment because I was clean,” Graziano said.

Graziano had to use opioids to get a bed. She now lives in a sober house and said she is doing well, but it’s been difficult.

The system also often leaves those in recovery unable to do what they need to do to move on – it takes away their driver’s license to get to work, makes it harder to find a job and ties up resources, many in the discussions said.

“And people need a job in recovery,” Spies said.