Letters to the Editor 07-25-2017

We are in the midst of a terrible opioid epidemic that is destroying millions of lives.
In 2015, nearly 600,000 people had a substance use disorder involving heroin and more than 2 million involving prescription medications. That year, there were more than 20,000 overdose deaths from those prescriptions and almost 13,000 deaths related to heroin.
With Ohio’s 4,149 overdose deaths in 2016, we can see how the numbers of overdose deaths are escalating. Experts predict Ohio may be looking at 10,000 overdose deaths for 2017. The spiraling out-of-control numbers, contrary to popular belief, are not limited to street-corner drug addicts or peer-pressured teens.
According to the CDC, in 2016, drug overdose became the leading cause of death in people under the age of 50, with 44 percent of deaths attributed to overdoses in adults between the ages of 45 and 64. Hopefully, new guidelines on prescribing of opiates can help reduce this number. Many addicted seniors are finding it difficult to get help and the issue is especially problematic for addicted people experiencing chronic pain.
There are very few of us who have not been affected by this epidemic, either directly or indirectly.
Our society continues to view opioid addiction as an illness and utilizes a medical model in addressing the issue.
We view the opioid addicts as a people with a chronic illness whose lives need to be saved and their addiction treated, rather than a moral failing that deserves punishment.
Twenty to thirty years ago, a very different approach was used in the cocaine epidemic. It was the get-tough-on-crime approach that emphasized criminality and punishment rather than medical treatment. It would be very foolish and costly to go back to that approach. It doesn’t help save lives.
How many billions of dollars would be spent to build new prisons to house these thousands of individuals?
The proactive public health response is a positive and welcomed approach to addictions.
Tony Grotrian

On behalf of HATS Transportation staff and all the riders who used the service July 17-20, I would like to give a big “HATS off” to United Way of Hancock County!
I received a call from Beverly Phillips, United Way, on July 14, with concerns about Hancock County residents affected by the high water having difficulties with transportation. With the wide-scale reach of the flood and flash flooding, many vehicles and roadways were under water.
The United Way wanted to help and offered to cover the fares for people to ride HATS during the flood recovery period.
A total of 687 trips were donated by the United Way in a three-day period.
HATS drivers and staff heard much gratitude and appreciation from riders for the “Free Fare” days!
When the residents of Hancock County face challenges such as the most recent flooding event, it is reassuring to have a community partner like the Hancock County United Way!
Many thanks to all of our neighbors and businesses who contributed to the United Way flood relief effort!
Laurie Collins
HATS director
HHWP Community Action Commission

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