New Athens Group Fighting Drug Abuse

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A new group is forming in Athens to address the problem of prescription drug abuse.

It's called the Athens Opiod Coalition.

Opiods are drugs that provide pain relief.  

A side effect is a sense of euphoria and that's the reason opiods are often abused.   

Joe Gay says, "There's been a tremendous increase in the use of opiate drugs in Ohio.  About four times as many people are dying from overdoeses, almost three times as many people are in treatment as the case 10 years ago.  And so we are trying to bring different members of the community together to work on this."

Gay is one of the leaders in the formation of the Athens Opiod Coalition.

He is Executive Director of Health Recovery Services of Athens.

Gay was a guest on Newswatch on WOUB-TV to talk about a Coalition kick-off event.

The event featured a presentation by a nationally recognized leader in the field of prescription drug abuse prevention.

That man was Fred Brason of Project Lazarus, a non-profit community-based program.

Gay says he was from North Carolina, "where they had a bigger problem than anything we've seen in Ohio" and they've cut their death by by about 40 percent.

"So they have found something that works and we want to find out what he is doing," says Gay.

"Throughout the country, its been found that when the community works together on a project, like this, you get much better results," says Gay. "So we're bringing in a number of people."

Who are the members of this coalition?

"We hope to have every segment we can find," says Gay.  "Law enforcement will be there, medical community, social services, such as children services, senior citizens have been invited , the educational community, religious community, anymore we can find thats interested."

Hocking County also is trying to deal with prescription drug abuse.  

A coalition has also formed there and they were invited to hear from Brason, too.