Opioid Epidemic graphic

Quinones Hears From Nelsonville’s Side of Opioid Crisis

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Residents of Athens County had the chance to talk to Sam Quinones, author of the bestselling book Dreamland, as he visited Ohio University’s campus and Nelsonville High School to talk about the opiate epidemic.

The visit came to an area that has shown a strong interest in the effects of the opioid epidemic on this area. Quinones’ book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic is the most checked out book of 2017 for the Athens County Public Library system.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, overdose deaths in the state are still increasing. In 2016, more than 4,100 people died on an overdose.

The audience in Nelsonville asked many different questions, mostly addressing Dr. Melinda Ford, who runs an addiction treatment clinic at Ohio University. People talked about addicted family members, their feelings of helplessness and their own addiction, asking why there are so few people to help.

After Jennifer Barnhart told the story of her 16-year heroin addiction and her journey to becoming 17-months clean, the community gave her a standing ovation.

This was an important gesture, according to Quinones.

“Isolation is heroin’s natural habitat. It’s the most isolating thing. We have to get together as a community,” he said.

The audience criticized the lack of treatment possibilities and the missing infrastructure. They asked Quinones his views on how the crisis will end, but he said that would involve being able to predict the future.

“There is not one solution. We tried to have one solution to pain. And found out, that opiate killers didn’t work,” he says. “It took 20 years to come in and it will take a long time to fix.”