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.

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State of Ohio

Ohio has a big problem with opioids and with prison overcrowding. A system meant to handle fewer than 39,000 people is holding more than 51,000, and many are relatively low-level drug offenders. But, as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports in this installment of our series, Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis, the justice system is looking to alternatives to tackle the problem.

photo of Ben Kellar, Noah Pengel, Destiny Reed
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

A generation ago, the battle to teach kids about drug abuse used scare tactics and the “Just Say No” campaign. In this installment of our series, Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis, WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports that experts are now recommending a concentration on social and emotional learning, as well as peer-to-peer programs – some of which are already in-place in Northeast Ohio schools.

Tonia Wright and Tugg Massa
Amanda Rabinowitz / WKSU

There are many stories of hope woven through the tragedies of Ohio’s opioid epidemic. In this installment of our series, Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis, WKSU's Amanda Rabinowitz looks at the range of recovery methods, from addicts simply helping each other out to structured treatment programs.  

photo of Jerry Craig
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Summit County says its new program to reach out to people within days of an overdose is getting increasing support from cities within the county.

Since December, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board has seen several cities create quick response teams consisting of a police officer, paramedic and counselor who will reach out to people within three to five days of an overdose.

photo of Fellowship Baptist Church
DAN KONIK / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

More people died in Ohio from an opioid overdose than any other state in the country in 2014, according to the latest national numbers from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Law enforcement, faith groups and other community leaders are trying to change that. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, they’re hoping that sharing as many ideas as possible can be a first step in overcoming the epidemic.

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