30 Agencies Across Ohio Will Use the Funds to Address Opioid Epidemic
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — New grant awards are being put to use by hometown Ohio teams that connect survivors of opioid addiction to treatment and recovery.
In communities across Ohio, the people on the front lines of the fight against opioid addiction can readily offer examples of how they’re making a difference: the one-time high school athlete who overdosed and was left for dead by a fellow addict, but survived, completed a residential treatment program and now speaks to teens about the dangers; or the way two drug abuse response teams operating more than a hundred miles apart collaborated to get a 27 year-old woman who regretted having fled treatment back into a program when she was ready, months later.
These teams and the people who serve on them now have additional dollars available to fund their work. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has expanded a program that helps address drug addictions, overdoses, and deaths within Ohio communities. The Drug Abuse Response Team Grant Program reimburses some of the personnel and other costs for local law enforcement or government agency teams that deploy in response to overdoses and other effects of the opioid epidemic.
New awards totaling $1.3 million have been sent to 30 local agencies across Ohio that operate these quick-response teams. The grants, administered by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, range from $8,000 to $62,000 per agency. Many of the recipient drug abuse response teams also received previous grants from this program, which began in 2017. A new interactive map on the attorney general’s website shows the locations of the law enforcement and other agencies that have received past or current grants, and the amounts of the grants.
“When an overdose tears the fabric of our communities, these are the people that begin the mending,” said Yost. “They bring the first principle of compassion to the first response.”
The grant program was built to replicate programs such as the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office Drug Abuse Response Team (DART), and Quick Response Teams (QRT’s) in Summit County and in Hamilton County’s Colerain Township. These teams are made up of law enforcement, counselors, paramedics, prosecutors, treatment providers, and others. They aim to reduce repeat drug overdoses and deaths through outreach to individuals suffering from addiction and their families.
The Addiction Response Collaborative or ARC team in Wood County is one of the grant recipients, awarded a $50,000 grant for the new fiscal year. A former high school athlete who overdosed in 2018 but has now celebrated one year clean is one of their success stories. That Bowling Green man had been a hockey and baseball stand-out. He was 27 years old in August 2018 when he took what he thought was heroin at the home of his best friend. He didn’t realize the drugs were laced with fentanyl and he overdosed. The friend, who had supplied the drugs and was also using, left him unresponsive for some 18 hours before the 27-year-old’s family came looking for him. He survived, went into an 8-week residential treatment program, and the same week he emerged he learned the best friend had just died of an overdose. Having now spent a full year off drugs, this survivor provides his personal insight to local high school students, to help them steer clear of opiate use. He’s also sharing his story on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
“That is a life saved, and it’s one that’s saving other lives in turn,” said Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson, whose office partners with Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn on the team. “This is the kind of work that AG Yost’s grant program helps us do at the local level. Many of us in Wood County have either been touched personally by the opioid epidemic or know someone else that has. That’s why receiving this financial support is so meaningful to us.”
The Medina County Opioid Response Team, another recipient of a new $50,000 grant, saw the number of local overdoses begin to decline and therefore turned their efforts proactive, connecting with jail inmates who tested positive for opiates. One such inmate turned out to be a 27-year-old Franklin County woman. She told the Medina County response team clinician that a Columbus first-responder tried to get her into detox, but she left that facility after one day. The Medina team reached their Franklin County counterparts and literally met them half-way, driving the woman to Mt. Gilead where the Franklin County team picked her up, taking her back for the treatment she was now ready to commit to.
“That was earlier this year, and we did learn that she was still in treatment a couple weeks later,” said Medina County Sheriff Tom Miller, whose office is part of the team. “So we know that she progressed. That means this grant program brought real help to her. She’s on a path toward a better life.”
The map of all grant recipient agencies can be found at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/dartgrants.