Pubdate: Tue, 28 Oct 2014
Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (OH)
Copyright: 2014 The Cincinnati Enquirer
Author: Terry DeMio
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


It's been one year since the Northern Kentucky Heroin Impact Response
Task Force came out with a "Call to Action" to fight the heroin epidemic.

On Tuesday night the group, made up of business leaders, law
enforcement, health care workers, prevention and recovery leaders and
families, will introduce the next phase of the attack on heroin.

Their plan has inspired 17 free overdose-prevention clinics providing
129 free kits containing a life-saving drug, naloxone. With five
documented rescues, the latest is a boy who was celebrating his 15th
birthday with heroin and overdosed in Covington.

Thousands learned about the heroin battle via social media with
Heroin, Drugfree NKY and a Twitter account, and 25 Heroin Town Hall

A member of the task force, Transitions, with Leadership NKY, created
the Healthy Newborns Project for addicted pregnant women and infants.

And St. Elizabeth Healthcare has started plans for a medicine-assisted
treatment (Suboxone) clinic expected to open in 2015.

They've barely scratched the surface.

So how will they tackle it?

"We must work toward stabilizing, improving the function and reducing
trauma for those addicted to heroin," said Dr. Jeremy Engel, a St.
Elizabeth family physician who spurred creation of the task force. "We
need full commitment from every organization, medical, political,
government, as well as judicial and legal to be able to overcome this

"If we had that, we would move ahead rapidly."

The heroin task force put together a set of goals for 2015-16
specifically targeted to reducing the risk of overdose deaths, the
spread of hepatitis C, preventing kids from starting heroin or other
drugs and expanding treatment.

The community will find more places to get naloxone, which restores
breathing in overdosing heroin or prescription painkiller users. The
task force's latest report says at least 200 will be handed out from
clinic sites and a van that will travel through the region.

More than 700 police officers will receive needle-resistant gloves and
300 police cruisers will have "sharps" containers, safety containers
for syringes, to protect them from discarded heroin needles they
collect in neighborhoods and along streets in the region.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department will expand education outreach
on infectious-disease risks associated with IV drug use, and the task
force will set up community needle-cleanup efforts, picking up used
syringes that addicts drop.

And eight coalitions already at work on preventing kids from using
drugs of any kind will join with Northern Kentucky high schools to
create a virtual youth think tank so students can be inspired by each
other to stay off drugs.

There's money, but not enough.

The task force received $106,974 in 2013 used toward prevention and
planning, and in September, NKY Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention
received $125,000 from the U.S Office of Drug Control Policy to
provide evidence-based substance abuse prevention. The need still
exists for treatment.

"The community is pulling together to find funding for treatment,"
said Bonnie Hedrick, a task force member and coordinator of the
substance abuse prevention agency.

The task force hopes to collect $2.5 million to address the immediate
goals in its 2015-16 plan. Treatment will require even more.

An unspecified amount of money also will be is expected as a result of
a meeting in September with Interact for Health, the R.C. Durr
Foundation and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, among others,
Hedrick said.

Despite the money in hand, and more needed, additional volunteers are
essential to the success of the plan.

"What we need is for individuals in the communities to take
responsibility for the plan," said Jason Merrick, chairman of NKY
People Advocating Recovery. "Take some action  make phone calls,
advocate to the legislature, whatever it is  to see this plan through."

Merrick has been advocating for heroin help  as has Engel, the
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and others from the region,
including NKY Hates Heroin, a grass-roots movement in itself. Together
they were unable to convince the Kentucky Legislature to pass Senate
Bill 5, which would have increased sentences to high-volume
traffickers and allowed for needle-exchange programs, as well as give
police and other first-responders permission to carry naloxone.

Since then, Merrick, along with two doctors and other volunteers, have
been handing out naloxone. Merrick also has organized volunteers to
canvass neighborhoods for dirty needles. It's simply not enough, he

The task force has heard repeatedly that families don't know where to
turn for help  as a solution, plans for a wrap-around network of
guidance and support for families and addicts is part of the plan for
2015-16. The task force estimates 100 people or families will be
served in one year, the plan says, with an expected 80 percent
sobriety at one year with treatment and support.

Other plans include expanding treatment in Northern Kentucky by
supporting in St. E's Suboxone clinic, Transitions' initiatives and
the Children's Home of NKY residential care for adolscents.

NKY Drug Strike Force Director Bill Mark said the heroin task force
has helped the epidemic by putting different faces of the fight
together to think through all variables of the problem.

"This is a journey for our community," said Dr. Lynne Saddler,
district director of the NKY Health Clinic. "As much as we'd like to
flip a switch, the heroin epidemic didn't happen overnight, and it's
not going to go away overnight."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard