By Amanda Ensinger
A local community is taking action to fight the addiction epidemic.
Start Talking Grove City hosted a panel discussion on Nov. 9 at Amazing Grace Church. The group consists of area residents, community leaders, professionals and law enforcement and aims to raise awareness about the addiction issues in the community, as well as give families tips on how to stop this epidemic.
“We don’t have an opioid epidemic; we have an overdose epidemic,” said Andrea Boxil of Franklin County Addiction Plan. “The bottom line is Ohio is number two in the nation in overdose deaths. You should be startled by that number.”
According to Boxil, in 2020 there were 804 deaths due to drug overdoses in the state and Franklin County was a major region where overdoses and deaths occurred.
“Due to our location to major freeways where drug trafficking takes place, we have a lot of this activity right here in Franklin County,” she said. “Every life matters and we need to fix this disease.”
Speakers said that one of the biggest trends they are seeing is that people are overdosing from all types of drugs, not just opioids. They are seeing fentanyl mixed in all types of drugs, causing an increase in overdoses.
Some of the drugs speakers say they have seen fentanyl in is marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and even pills.
“Kids aren’t going to the drug dealers house down the road anymore, they are ordering their drugs online and having them shipped to them,” said Sgt. Jeff Zech of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department. “They also think they are ordering one thing and really fentanyl is in it, and they are overdosing.”
Zech said cyber drug trafficking has gotten so bad that they have a task force assigned to it. He added that recently they had someone in Ohio who received drugs from Paris, so this type of drug dealing is on an international scale.
“One-way parents can help fight this epidemic is to look at the packages their kids are getting,” he said. “They may look like normal packages but look at the return address and who the package is addressed to. If the name on the package is different or the return address has an off location, like the Netherlands, then question your kids.”
Zech is part of the HOPE task force, which is a task force that focuses on not only finding the sources of drugs when someone overdoses, but also encouraging people who survive overdoes to enter treatment.
“When people survive an overdose we don’t want to take them to jail and lock them up, we want to try to get them help,” he said. “People that suffer from a fatal overdose, we investigate to try to find the dealer who supplied the drugs.”
From looking in victim’s phones to conducting interviews with people who were there when someone overdosed, the taskforce tries to work backward to find the dealer and get the drugs off the streets.
These organizations also try to raise awareness with drug users when they know there is a bad batch of drugs on the streets. From issuing alerts to spreading the word on the streets, leaders try to raise awareness with potential users if they know there is a bad batch out there that could kill them.
If you are interested in learning more about Start Talking Grove City, visit www.starttalkinggc.org.