Youngstown hosts community opioid summit - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Youngstown hosts community opioid summit

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It's been declared a public health emergency, and Friday more than one hundred people turned out for a Community Opioid Summit in Youngstown.

The forum is the latest effort to develop a local strategy and solutions to the deadly opioid epidemic. 

It was standing room only at the summit presented by Mahoning County Juvenile Court and the Mental Health and Recovery Board. 

The event was organized to respond to the serious epidemic confronting families. Ohio leads the nation in opioid overdose deaths.  

The latest report from the Intelligence Unit of the State Highway Patrol shows Trumbull and Mahoning counties are in the top ten for fatal overdoses. 

Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick says the problem has reached epidemic proportions in less than a decade.

"In 2010 there were 1.800 deaths to drug overdose. In  2016 the number jumped to 4,300," Dellick said.

21 News anchor Derek Styer was asked to moderate the summit, which also provided an opportunity for people to ask questions of the professionals.

 "We want to hear what people have to say and we think we have the people on the panel that can answer some of their concerns," said Duane Piccirilli, Executive Director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board.

Judge Dellick says the crisis is also having social consequences beyond just those who are addicted.  "Through parents who are losing custody of their children, we're also seeing the damaging effects of it on their children. Watching parents overdose, watching parents die," the judge said.

Authorities say you can't arrest the problem away. Incarceration does not reflect a reduction in illegal drug abuse. The state report advocates for community partnerships, and that's what Mahoning County is doing.

"The one thing we want to show everybody is Mahoning County is collaborating. We have programs with the sheriff, we have programs with the justice system, and we have programs with our agencies," Piccirilli said. 

Addiction is a disease. But help is available and people at the summit shared their success stories.  "And we want others to know there is success," Dellick said. 

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