'Heroin to Hope' Event Slated for May 16 | The City of Lakewood, Ohio
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‘Heroin to Hope’ Event Slated for May 16

May 08, 2017

February was the deadliest month in Cuyahoga County history for fatal overdoses (60) related to heroin- and fentanyl-related use. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed there were 60 confirmed fatal overdoses during the month.

In 2016, the Lakewood Police and Fire departments responded to 251 overdose calls, and 28 died as a result of heroin overdoses.

These statistics typically aren’t the stuff of good–news press releases and community pride. But, the problem is real. And the city of Lakewood is not shying away from the challenge.

In other words, there is hope.

The city has partnered with a number of area agencies and organizations to meet the issue head-on and provide assistance. The goal is to connect people struggling with addiction to available recovery resources.

The City of Lakewood’s Human Services Department will explore the latest developments in fighting the heroin and prescription drug overdose epidemic in a public forum, “Heroin to Hope,” at the Lakewood Methodist Church on Tuesday, May 16.

The event used to be known Heroin & Hope, but is now called Heroin to Hope — a subtle difference, but one illustrating that recovery is the next logical step in addiction.

“Our role is to link people to recovery,” said Katie Kurtz, the clinical manager for the city’s department of human services. “Recovery is possible. We are here to provide support to our community.”

The Lakewood Human Services Department has redoubled its efforts, dedicating part of its work to forming and cultivating strong collaborative partnerships. Among them, the city has been working with Erin Helms of the Woodrow Project, which has a recovery home on Donald Avenue, and another one in West Park.

“This isn’t one person’s problem, it’s the whole community,” Kurtz said. “When one person struggles with addiction, the problem affects their entire family — which affects friends and neighbors and, ultimately, an entire community. One person can’t solve this problem, and besides, we’re stronger together.”

“We want to build bridges.”

Mayor Mike Summers championed a resolution recently passed by city council declaring the opioid crisis in the city as a public health crisis — a move qualifying Lakewood for additional government funding to address the issue.

Lakewood is doing more than other suburban communities to battle the addiction problem and still much more can be done.

In what was considered a progressive measure at the time, the city equipped all of its first-responders with Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids by blocking the receptors in the brain.

The city is now looking to obtain funding for a peer specialist, who would visit each person who overdoses on opioids and have contact to offer resources.

“We need to take broad action on this opioid epidemic,” said Mayor Summers, who will moderate the Heroin to Hope event on May 16. “Its impact on families is immeasurable.”

“Heroin to Hope” begins at 6:30 p.m. with an open resource room where nearly 50 local organizations and programs will offer recovery, treatment, advocacy and prevention options. A prescription drug drop-box — like one at police stations — will also be featured at the event.

The Community Conversation will begin at 7 p.m., featuring several speakers, including Vince Caraffi, from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and chairman of the Cuyahoga County Opiate Task Force; and Dr. Judith Welsh, the medical director of the emergency department at Cleveland Clinic Lakewood.

For more information about “Heroin to Hope,” please contact event organizer Katie Kurtz at 216-529-5011or katherine.kurtz@lakewoodoh.net.