Healthy Communities Council commits to tackling opiate epidemic

The Healthy Communities Council of Bartholomew County recently approved a more aggressive and immediate approach to addressing the opiate addiction epidemic in Bartholomew County.

The accelerated community efforts aim to address and mitigate community problems that have resulted from the recent dramatic increase in opiate dependence. 

A new leadership structure within the Healthy Communities Council will provide support and resources to focus and accelerate current substance abuse efforts.

The council recognizes that the epidemic stems from access to and addiction with opiate drugs and limited treatment and recovery services, as well as other gateways and barriers. Three committees will focus on different aspects of the opiate epidemic: 
• Education and Prevention 
• Law Enforcement and Judiciary tactics
• Treatment and Recovery

City and County leaders Mayor Jim Lienhoop, County Commissioner Carl Lienhoop and Columbus Regional Health CEO Jim Bickel will lead the initiative.

“We are like most communities across the country that suffer from the devastation this opiate epidemic causes,” said Jim Lienhoop, Mayor of Columbus and a Healthy Communities Council member.  “We are different, though, in that we have decided not to wait any longer to get serious about tackling this problem.”

Next steps will include further development and structuring of the committees to establish community goals, build community awareness and engagement, identify priorities and resources needed and ensure community accountability.

Getting started

The public is invited to the launch event for the work ahead in the form of a community forum from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 19 at the Commons.

Sam Quinones, author of “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” will speak along with Dr. Kendall Stewart, a psychiatrist and chief medical officer of the Portsmouth, Ohio Southern Ohio Medical Center. The event is free and no registration is required. Copies of Quinones’s book are available locally in the Bartholomew County Library and at Viewpoint Books.

Media contact: Beth Morris, [email protected], 812376-5452

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