Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis

Credit Layne Gerbig / WKSU

Day after day, week after week, the headlines in Northeast Ohio and across much of the country contain news of tragic loss:  lives lost to opioids. It’s a problem that knows no bounds:  geography, race, gender, level of education or income.

The problem took on new urgency this summer as the powerful elephant sedative, Carfentanil, began hitting the streets.  First responders armed with their only weapon, the overdose antidote Naloxone, have struggled to keep up with what’s become an overwhelming problem. It’s an issue that’s straining public and social resources.  What has become clear is that business as usual is not going to fix the problem.

WKSU news has been covering the unfolding crisis. Tuesdays during Morning Edition, the WKSU news team digs even deeper.  WKSU reporters will examine what’s led us here and what might be done to turn the tide.  

Support for Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis comes from Wayne Savings Community Bank, Kent State University Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Hometown Grocery Delivery, Mercy Medical Center, AxessPointe Community Health Center, Community Support Services, Inc., Medina County District Library and Hudson Community First.

Ways to Connect

Ohio's overdose rates

Local communities who were hoping for new money in President Trump’s public health emergency declaration to fight the addiction crisis were disappointed. But as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, they see promise in some of the initiatives.

The only new funding promised in President Trump’s announcement is from the Public Health Emergency Fund – which the Washington Post says now has $57,000 in it. But the plan does allow those who can’t find jobs because of addiction to get Dislocated Worker retraining grants that now go to people who are laid off.

Narcan kit
Amanda Rabinowitz / WKSU

Akron’s Quick Response Team has become the first in Summit County to offer residents naloxone kits and training on how to use them to counter the effects of an opioid overdose.

Joseph Natko, the district chief of the Akron Fire Department, says the effort is part of a follow-up strategy with people who recently overdosed.

Ilene Shapiro
M.L. SCHULTZE / WKSU public radio

Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro is asking County Council to turn 25 acres of what used to be the Edwin Shaw rehab hospital over to two nonprofits – to help respond to the county’s newly declared crisis. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports the agencies plan to convert the property into an addiction-treatment facility.

Ilene Shapiro
M.L. SCHULTZE / WKSU public radio

Summit County is preparing to sue the companies that make and distribute addictive painkillers. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the lawsuit the county expects Akron, Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls and others will join  --  on the declaration by the county of a state of emergency.

At her state of the county address, county Executive Ilene Shapiro announced the plans to file the suit in a few weeks. She says the opioid epidemic has cost local taxpayers nearly $112 million over the last five years, and is likely to cost as much as $165 million over the next five.

Community and News Media Join in Search for Solutions to Drug Crisis

Oct 24, 2017
photo of Doug Oplinger

The community has been dealing with the effects of the opioid crisis for years, and people want answers and solutions that materialize into change.

Reaching decision-makers
People in recovery and their family members, those interested in seeing a change in their neighborhoods and schools, and treatment staff spoke up Monday as journalists from four of the major news providers in the region sat down with them and started taking notes.