Town hall addresses impact of addiction on families in Trumbull - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

There have been 16 overdose deaths in Trumbull County this month

Town hall addresses impact of addiction on families in Trumbull County

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WARREN, Ohio -

About 275 people filled a Warren church to talk about solutions to end the heroin epidemic that has a hold of the valley and the nation.

The focus of the town hall was on how this life-threatening disease has a ripple effect on families of all backgrounds but how there is also hope in the darkness.

Sixteen overdose deaths in Trumbull County since March 1st. One of those lives lost was the son of Brian Reed.

David Anthony Reed, 29, died on March 11th from a heroin overdose. 

"I still got chills too, it's not easy, but I gotta stand up. I am with Ohio C.A.N (Ohio Change Addiction Now) and this is the first one that's hit me personally. I've been to funerals before, but now this is my family," Reed said.

Reed is turning his grief into helping other families affected by addiction.

He was one of the 275 people at the town hall titled Addiction: Disease and the Family Dynamic.

"It's difficult for people to understand it's a disease process. No one wakes up in the morning and decides they want to give their lives over and their children up," explained Trumbull County Children Services Executive Director Tim Schaffner.

One of the focuses was on trying to help families better understand how addiction affects the brain.

"Food, water shelter those sorts of things the primitive part of the brain drives us to see, this will actually replace it," explained Dr. Daniel Brown, Meridian Healthcare Chief Medical Officer.

Schaffner talked about the care needed for children who have been affected by addiction in their families because research shows they can also follow down similar paths as their parents. He noted a correlation between the number of adverse childhood experiences and more high risk behavior. He said that the trauma rewires the brain.

"Parents talk to your children about everything," Reed said.

Reed's son left behind two children and one on the way, who will be in the care of a grandmother.

He wants parents to look in their kids rooms for what's hidden in plain sight. "He was good when it come to hiding," Reed said.

Another part of the forum was on the success stories that often go untold. Five hundred people in recovery attended a rally this past September and an organizer said that there was no one from the media there.

The Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention is hosting another Rally for Recovery on September 9, 2017, at the Warren Community Amphitheatre from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

"That's what gives me hope and gives kids' hope," said Lauren Thorp, Project Director of the Alliance on Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP). 

"Treatment works and people recover," Schaffner said.

Reed says addicts have to want to get help.  "We've been battling, it I want to say, 15 years. It started out with marijuana. That's where you start your addiction and he graduated all the way to heroin. He's had rehab, rehab, rehab. Rehab's only good when you want it," Reed said.

Support for addicts and family members is also an important step. Another program titled Hope for Recovery from Addiction is coming up this Saturday at Kent State Trumbull from 5:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. It continues the discussion and provides a way for people to develop networks to help their loved ones.

In fighting the epidemic, Jim Evans, Meridian Healthcare Senior Vice President, talked about battling the stigma that doesn't acknowledge addiction as a disease.  "We have a responsibility to challenge each other when another starts the blame game," he said and gave examples of the media and church.

When questions were raised about continuing to administer Naloxone when addicts may continue to use, April Caraway of the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board said. "I share the frustration. We have to bring someone back to get them help."

Jodie Milhoan, Facilitator of Trumbull County's Family Dependency Treatment Court, talked about success stories she has seen. One man she said was recovered with Naloxone three times and the last one took four doses. She said that he is now alive, is a father to his children and in recovery.

She warned people to not become callous to the numbers and echoed Schaffner's sentiment that this is someone's sister, mother, or daughter.

Thorp talked about a number of prevention efforts underway in the schools and how they are not just assemblies anymore.

Thorp said that they want a prevention person in the district regularly that a child can confide in. She said that they are looking into an evidence based program in K-3 that works on self regulation.

Regarding treatment, Dr. Brown said that the people they are seeing come in now are using mostly or all fentanyl.

He stated during the forum that medication can assist treatment. Schaffner added that a part of the treatment-12 step programs Narcotics Anonymous and Alocoholics Anonymous- has the highest compliance rate. 

Panelists reiterated for families that there is help for them too through Nar-Anon and Al-Anon.

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