By Wayne Gates –
The Coalition for a Drug Free Brown County has released a detailed action plan designed to reduce the problems associated with opiate addiction.
The group has been meeting since October or 2015 and has been discussing aspects of the plan nearly from that first meeting. It was unveiled at a public meeting at the Brown County Educational Service Center in Georgetown on September 6.
“September is recovery month and also suicide prevention month, so we thought that was a great time to roll the plan out to the community at large,” said coalition member and Brown County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Deanna Vietze.
The plan has eight goals,which include decreasing the availability of illicit drugs in Brown County, reducing deaths and new cases of infectious diseases associated with drug use, increase funds to support prevention efforts, increase access to addiction treatment, expand health care, treatment and after care for people who are addicted, provide drug education for county residents, increase youth prevention programs and develop and implement community-based initiatives that promote healthy behaviors and that support successful recovery.
The full plan exceeds fifty pages. To obtain a full copy, call the Brown County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services at (937) 378-3504.
Brown County Prosecutor Zac Corbin addressed those at the meeting and talked about the high rate of unintentional overdose deaths in Brown County over the past few years.
Corbin pointed out that Brown County led the state in per capita death rates for three years and a row and was narrowly in second place in 2016.
“We have a ton of work to do as a community to make a difference. And it’s going to require all of us working together and it’s take time. It’s not going to happen overnight. We have to keep pressing forward,” Corbin said.
He discussed the work of the Brown County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force, pointing out that a central place for information about drug crime was yielding good results.
Debbie Otten of Talbert House then spoke about the state of drug treatment in the county.
“One of the most important goals we have is to expand treatment. Expanding the days of service to hopefully include Saturdays, expanding the hours of service, expanding treatment so we can also help families and children. Addiction does not only affect the person that has the addiction,” Otten said.
She also said that more areas are needed where people can detox from drug addiction besides the jail that would have health care and monitoring.
Otten also said that and inpatient and medically assisted treatment options were crucial to solving the long term addiction problem.
Brown County Sheriff Gordon Ellis then spoke about the law enforcement challenges of the drug issue.
“You show me an area with a high drug use and I will show you an area with high burglary, high theft, and assault rates because when drug crime is involved, it leads to other crimes,” Ellis said.
He then asked for help in watching for crime in local neighborhoods.
“We are only successful in law enforcement based on the amount of information we receive from citizens. Most of the crime we solve is solved because citizens have provided us the information we need to investigate and prosecute.”
Ellis then committed to the group that he and his deputies were in for the long haul to deal with the problem.
“We will not stop. Every day we go out there, we go out to make a difference. That’s our calling. To make a difference. We are going to continue to do all we can to reduce drug crime in Brown County.”
After the meeting, Vietze said she was happy with how the event turned out.
“I was pleased with the number of questions that we received from the audience members. Obviously we still have a lot of work to do, but I was happy with the way things went.”
Vietze said that approximately 70 people from the community attended the 7 p.m. event and another event held at 3 p.m.
When asked what was next, Vietze said “The next step is to put the plan into action. We shared tonight that we are already moving forward with some of our goals like the quick response team and narcan distribution and treatment expansion options. We will continue to move forward and establish new goals as we go.”
For those who did not attend the meeting but would like to help, Vietze said “If anyone has questions or ideas of ways that we can impact change, to please share them with us. It takes all of us working together to make change.”
The Brown County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services can be reached at (937) 378-3504.
For those who would like to leave a tip for law enforcement to follow up on, the tip line for the Brown County Drug and Major Crime Task Force is (937) 378-2573.
Email tips can also be sent to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office by logging onto www.browncountyohsheriff.us and clicking the tip tab.