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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980000Day after day, week after week, the headlines in Northeast Ohio and across much of the country contain news of tragic loss: lives lost to opioids. It’s a problem that knows no bounds: geography, race, gender, level of education or income.The problem took on new urgency this summer as the powerful elephant sedative, Carfentanil, began hitting the streets. First responders armed with their only weapon, the overdose antidote Naloxone, have struggled to keep up with what’s become an overwhelming problem. It’s an issue that’s straining public and social resources. What has become clear is that business as usual is not going to fix the problem.WKSU news has been covering the unfolding crisis. Tuesdays during Morning Edition, the WKSU news team digs even deeper. WKSU reporters will examine what’s led us here and what might be done to turn the tide. Support for Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis comes from Wayne Savings Community Bank, Kent State University Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Hometown Grocery Delivery, Mercy Medical Center, AxessPointe Community Health Center, Community Support Services, Inc., Medina County District Library and Hudson Community First.00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980001

Residents in Rural Tuscarawas County Form a Group to Combat Opioid Abuse

photo of Al Landis

A community group in southeast Tuscarawas County is trying to get the attention of elected officials, police and fellow citizens to combat opioid abuse.

Dennison and Uhrichsville – known as the Twin Cities – have a combined population of about 8,000 people. One-hundred of them were at Thornwood Park yesterday as part of the group “Cleaning Up the 922” -- named for the area’s telephone exchange. They were discussing ways to address a growing opioid problem.

One topic brought up repeatedly was the need for people to stay vigilant. Jessie Newton has three young children and was at the meeting.

“People are so afraid to speak out because they’re afraid of retaliation. They’re afraid somebody’s going to call them a ‘snitch’ or a ‘narc’ or whatever. Some people are afraid to lose their jobs: some businesses don’t allow you to get involved.”

'It's a sad, sad commentary when folks who have a mental health illness, an addiction, cannot afford to recover.'

Other suggestions ranged from tougher sentences for drug dealers to more outreach in schools.

Former Tuscarawas County Commissioner Belle Everett was at the meeting and says she agrees with people who want to see more recovery centers in the area.

“It’s a sad, sad commentary when folks who have a mental health illness – an addiction – cannot afford to recover. And they have to be arrested in order to be offered a Vivitrol shot by the sheriff. That’s not the way it should be.”

Many residents at yesterday’s meeting also credited the city’s now-closed teen center with helping them deal with addiction and related issues. The recently formed non-profit “Twin City Kids’ Coalition” plans to ask city officials next month for a vacant parcel of land for a new teen center.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.