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Fentanyl test strips used to check for fentanyl contamination were offered free of charge and without judgment at Wednesday’s overdose awareness event. (Photo by Morgan Ahart)

LISBON — For Ashley Durbin, who will celebrate a year of active recovery on Sept. 29, events like Wednesday’s overdose awareness event hosted by The Family Recovery Center are a boost to maintaining sobriety.

Durbin, who had been addicted to heroin and crack, came to the event to offer her support and come out to do something.

The Overdose Awareness event, held on Ohio’s state-recognized Overdose Awareness Day, was held to raise community awareness, provide resources and information, and distribute naloxone ( Narcan, the overdose reversal drug), Tawnia Jenkins, chemical addiction counselor and says peer support. The main objective was to provide education and awareness on the issue and to try to remove the stigma associated with it.

“We don’t want people not helping someone out of fear. It can happen to anyone.” Jenkins said. “People will say I don’t have any of that in my family, but somewhere, six degrees apart, someone you know has overdosed or has a substance abuse or even mental health issue. It is better to have something to prepare than not to be able to help them.

Jenkins said they were handing out Naloxone in hopes it would give someone who overdosed a chance to come in and get treatment and get back on their feet.

The proclamation of the Columbiana County Commissioners declaring August 31, 2022 Overdose Awareness Day. (Photo by Morgan Ahart)

Jenkins also noted that Project Dawn, which distributes Naloxone is part of the Family Recovery Center, allows them to have Naloxone on hand at all times. The center has also set up a link on its website, where those who wish to obtain naloxone without going to the center can order it and receive it by post.

In addition to the Family Recovery Center and Project Dawn, several other organizations including River Valley, Ohio Rise/Aetna JCESC (Jefferson County Educational Service Center), Columbiana County District Attorney’s Office, Americorps Seniors, Ozer Ministries, Ohio Can/ Nina’s Closet, Columbiana County Youth Coalition, Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Highway Patrol, Christina House, Community Action Agency of Columbiana County, Columbiana County Children Services, and Columbiana County JFS (Jobs and Family Services) were all on hand to provide information on their services.

Project Dawn provided overdose kits containing naloxone, a face mask and gloves. They also provide medication lock boxes, medication deactivation kits to dispose of unused medications, and rapid response fentanyl test strips to test medications to ensure they are fentanyl-free before disposal. utilize.

A banner was available for those attending the event who had lost someone to an overdose to sign. In addition to the banner, there were purple flags that anyone could put the name of someone lost to an overdose on and place them in the ground.

There were 51 purple flags placed unnamed representing the 51 confirmed lives lost so far this year in Columbiana County due to an overdose.

A purple flag was placed in the ground in memory of each of the 51 confirmed overdose deaths in Columbiana County in 2022. (Photo by Morgan Ahart)

For Columbiana County Sheriff Brian McLaughin, events like this are significant. He thinks it’s important for the sheriff’s office to help raise awareness and also help reduce the stigma around drug use. He hopes these types of events will encourage people to seek help.

McLaughin also noted that Columbiana is in the top 20 counties with the most overdose deaths in the state of Ohio.

Columbiana County Children’s Services attended the event in an attempt to raise awareness of the growing need for foster families in the county. There are more children in need of foster care due to the opioid crisis and not enough families to take them in.

Columbiana County Assistant District Attorney Abbey Minamyer said she thinks events like these are great and provide her office and staff with an opportunity to engage with the community.

Minamyer also said she believes events like the Overdose Awareness event show people that there are agencies that are willing to help and have resources available and are accessible.

People attending Wednesday’s overdose awareness event were asked to write down the names of all loved ones who died from overdose and drug addiction, and place a purple flag in their memory. (Photo by Morgan Ahart)

“Even if people are not comfortable going out in public and participating in a session like the one we see here today, they see that it is being advertised or they pass in car and see it and they can recognize some of the signs and be able to reach out to people in the organization to get their needs met,” said Minamyer.

Durbin said she loved these events and felt there should be many more.

“I like them because it lets people know that there are people here who are willing to help, to listen and to care, and that there is no judgement,” Durbin said. “When I was in active addiction, I was always scared to come to a place like this and ask for help when I was using because I was ashamed of myself.”

Durbin also said she knew there was a better way and it took her a while to figure it out.

“It was a difficult time. It hasn’t all been easy, and I definitely still have issues with it to this day, but I just have to keep taking it someday and carry on knowing there’s hope for people who want get down and stay sober and places like that are actually willing to help,” Durbin said.

Wednesday’s overdose awareness event provided non-judgmental support and information to the public. (Photo by Morgan Ahart)

Christina House attended Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness event to help highlight the link between drug addiction and abuse and domestic violence. (Photo by Morgan Ahart)

A sign advertising the free availability of Naloxone (overdose medication) is posted outside by the road outside the family recovery center where the overdose awareness event took place on Wednesday. (Photo by Kristi R. Garabrandt)

Ashley Durbin, who will celebrate a year of recovery from crack and heroin addiction on September 29, attended the Overdose Awareness event to show her support for those offering help. (Photo by Kristi R. Garabrandt)

Kayla Garber, victims’ attorney; Abbey Minamyer, assistant attorney for Columbia County; and Bobbie Vickroy, bureau chief at the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office, believe events like the Overdose Awareness Event can have an impact on the community. (Photo by Kristi R. Garabrandt)

Family Recovery Center staff, Austin Roberts, executive assistant; Miranda Abel, Case Manager/Counsellor; Mike Richards, addiction counselor; and Tawnia Jenkins, Licensed Addictions Counselor and Peer Supporter, distribute Narcan and Drug Overdose Awareness Kits at the Overdose Awareness Event. (Photo by Kristi R. Garabrandt)

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