Two themes emerged during a town hall meeting Wednesday in Sylvania about prescription drug abuse and heroin use.
No one starts out to become an addict. And parents are reluctant to admit their child’s addiction.
“I don’t think any of us parents wants to think about our kids doing the wrong thing, making the wrong choices, but the fact of the matter is they do,” said Chrys Peterson, a former WTOL-TV Channel 11 news anchor who moderated the event at the Sylvania Senior Center.
The meeting, put together by Sylvania Community Action Team, drew more than 50 parents and community members to hear from a panel that included medical and treatment specialists, the Sylvania and Sylvania Township police chiefs and the township fire chief, and parents of addicts.
“I was one of those moms: ‘Not my kid,’ ” said Brenda Alcock. “Well, guess what. It’s been nine years. It is my kid.”
She is raising two grandchildren because her son is a heroin addict.
“It’s hell. I’m not afraid to shout it to the rooftops,” Ms. Alcock said. “I’ve done everything I can do. All I can do is protect the children.”
Larry Vorderburg cares for two granddaughters because of his daughter’s heroin addiction. That daughter’s first addiction was painkillers, but she turned to heroin “when heroin became so cheap and available,” Mr. Vorderburg said. “It’s amazing how quick it goes.”
The family was reluctant to act.
“Waiting for them to hit bottom doesn’t work. The bottom is death,” Mr. Vorderburg said. “You’d rather sign the papers and have the children taken away than go to a funeral.”
Dr. Lisa Hoff, an emergency-room physician, described the physiology of addiction — how use becomes physical and the emotional dependence — and the reality of dealing with addicts who come to the hospital.
“I know I’m lied to multiple times a day,” Dr. Hoff said.
Fire Chief Jeff Kowalski, the SCAT board’s president, wasn’t the first panelist to tell the gathering to keep tabs on children and grandchildren and even be nosy.
“You know your kids. You know when something doesn’t seem right,” Chief Kowalski said. “Don't be afraid as a parent to say, ‘Wait a minute.’ ”
The community action team was formed in 1985 to address drug and alcohol use and other at-risk behavior among young people in Sylvania and Sylvania Township.
Combating addiction and preventing overdoses have been hot topics in recent months. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine formed a heroin unit within his office to help law enforcement and has convened summits around the state.
Gov. John Kasich devoted a section of his State of the State address to drug abuse and addiction.
Legislation pending in the Ohio General Assembly would require schools to include information about preventing prescription drug abuse in their health curricula. A legislative task force late last year called for increased spending to create treatment housing and boost drug dockets in courts.
Additional officers have been assigned to the Toledo police drug unit.
When the Cleveland Clinic and federal prosecutors held a daylong conference on the drug epidemic, more than 600 people signed up to attend. In Monroe County, Michigan, a coalition of labor unions and law enforcement have banded together to battle addiction.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.