Residents in Rural Tuscarawas County Form a Group to Combat Opioid Abuse

Aug 28, 2017

State Rep. Al Landis (left) spoke with residents at the meeting about possible solutions to the opioid crisis, many of which require more funding.
Credit KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

A community group in southeast Tuscarawas County is trying to get the attention of elected officials, police and fellow citizens to combat opioid abuse.

Dennison and Uhrichsville – known as the Twin Cities – have a combined population of about 8,000 people. One-hundred of them were at Thornwood Park yesterday as part of the group “Cleaning Up the 922” -- named for the area’s telephone exchange. They were discussing ways to address a growing opioid problem.

One topic brought up repeatedly was the need for people to stay vigilant. Jessie Newton has three young children and was at the meeting.

“People are so afraid to speak out because they’re afraid of retaliation. They’re afraid somebody’s going to call them a ‘snitch’ or a ‘narc’ or whatever. Some people are afraid to lose their jobs: some businesses don’t allow you to get involved.”

'It's a sad, sad commentary when folks who have a mental health illness, an addiction, cannot afford to recover.'

Other suggestions ranged from tougher sentences for drug dealers to more outreach in schools.

Former Tuscarawas County Commissioner Belle Everett was at the meeting and says she agrees with people who want to see more recovery centers in the area.

“It’s a sad, sad commentary when folks who have a mental health illness – an addiction – cannot afford to recover. And they have to be arrested in order to be offered a Vivitrol shot by the sheriff. That’s not the way it should be.”

Many residents at yesterday’s meeting also credited the city’s now-closed teen center with helping them deal with addiction and related issues. The recently formed non-profit “Twin City Kids’ Coalition” plans to ask city officials next month for a vacant parcel of land for a new teen center.