By Kristin Bednarski
More than 200 people attended the Start Taking a New Direction Opiate Summit at University of Cincinnati Clermont College April 12.
The summit was hosted by Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board, UC Clermont, the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office, and other organizations, and was designed to address opiate abuse in Clermont County and beyond.
“I think everything went very well,” James Syphax, with the Coalition for a Drug Free Clermont County, and president of UC Clermont Student Government, said. “We got a lot of great feedback from our students and professionals.”
The summit was held for law enforcement officials, mental health and healthcare professionals, students, teachers and other members of the community.
Several lectures and sessions were held at UC Clermont throughout the day and more than 20 presenters shared information throughout the event.
Sessions included information about the culture of drugs in the community, history of the opiate epidemic, medical information about overdoses, advice for how to help someone recovering from drug abuse, and more.
Lieutenant Shawn Bain with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office hosted Operation Street Smart, a session that provided information helpful for recognizing the influences of the drug culture and educate people about popular drugs in the community.
Bain said many individuals, even teenagers, are progressing from marijuana to prescription pills to heroin today, and heroin is becoming a growing concern.
“In the 60s, heroin was coming in from Asia in powder for for about $100,000 per kilo,” Bain said. “In the 1990s the face of heroin changed worldwide.”
Bain said people began producing the drug in Mexico, and the price dropped from to about $40,000 per kilo.
“Lower than cocaine,” Bain said.
He said the purity is higher and the price is lower, which has made it more popular in the United States.
Bain explained that the increase in purity, along with the need for individuals to increase the amount of drugs they use for a high, has caused more overdoses.
Syphax said the opiate summit was timed well because of how serious opiate and heroin abuse is becoming in the community.
“I think this was a great time for community members to increase their knowledge on what is going on,” Syphax said.
Syphax said it was also a good opportunity to see what is being done to help find a solution to the drug abuse problems in the community.
“Looking at the evaluations, it seemed like everyone enjoyed the sessions,” Syphax said. “We are really thankful the community was receptive.”