WILMINGTON — Looking ahead to an early April forum on the opiate problem here, a local judge and a representative from the Ohio Attorney General (OAG) Office met Monday with Clinton County commissioners.
Carol A. Baden, an OAG community outreach specialist, said a similar forum in Highland County organized by the OAG Heroin Unit drew 250 people.
During Monday’s discussion, there were comments about actions that local or state government can consider in responding to residents’ addictions to pain pills and heroin — along with measures taken by nonprofits and the community in general.
Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck said he still thinks there is a role for the county commissioners “in terms of health treatment” toward the addicts, citing a “lack of resources.”
“There are programs developing through nonprofits that I’d like to see partnered with maybe the county commissioners and trying to use maybe some of the health [sale of CMH] money that you have,” the judge said. “I can’t think of a better use.”
Rudduck presides over a local specialized drug court, called the You-Turn Recovery Docket. Eligible drug-addicted persons may be sent to drug courts in lieu of traditional justice system case processing.
Noting he had the commissioners as an audience Monday, Rudduck advised them the Clinton County Common Pleas Court’s Probation Department probably will have to be expanded a little bit because “we’re going to have to have stricter monitoring.”
He added the court will roll out a new drug-testing program in which individuals placed on probation will have to call in every day and find out whether they will get drug tested.
Clinton County Commissioner Patrick Haley, at one juncture in the discussion, said if the State of Ohio is serious about the drug issue, “then they need to put their money, so to speak, where their mouth is.”
Haley added that each county should have resources to address the problem and to have facilities that assist the addicts, but that most counties can’t afford to do that from their General Fund.
Rudduck then said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary C. Mohr is committed to returning money — saved by a hoped-for reduction in the prison population — back to local communities for uses such as Haley was talking about.
Baden, for her part, said, “For me, this epidemic will end when we have a continuum of care for the people who are addicted.”
She referred to the part that 12-step addiction recovery programs can play, and mentioned communities that can support people through life skills and jobs skills training.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.