Local judicial, law enforcement, and treatment services representatives traveled to Columbus on June 30 to learn about promising judicial practices and options for opiate addition treatment, including medication-assisted treatment, at the Ohio Judicial Symposium on Opiate Addition.
Belmont County was among 83 Ohio counties represented at the symposium presented by the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addition Services, the Governor's Cabinet Opiate Action Team, and Office of Criminal Justice Services and hosted by the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities.
The event included remarks from Governor John R. Kasich, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O'Connor, and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Belmont County’s Opiate Addiction Team attending Columbus conference are from right to left: Prosecutor Daniel P. Fry; Sheriff David M. Lucas; Gene Gallo, Executive Director of Eastern Ohio Correctional Center; Frank A. Fregiato and John M. Solovan, II, Common Pleas Court Judges; Eric Costine, Western Division County Court Judge; Linda Pickenpaugh, Director of Mental Health and Recovery Board; and Ed Gorrence, Probation Department.
"We're done ignoring the drug addicted and the mentally ill in this state. We're not going to save them all, but in the course of trying to save one person at a time, we not only change the world, we change ourselves," Governor Kasich said.
"Unintended deaths from opiate overdoses are approaching a problem that is nearly double the number of highway fatalities," Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O'Connor told the more than 800 in attendance. "I am convinced that with the collective wisdom and will of those who are gathered here today, we will develop effective strategies that will reverse the trend."
Attendees also heard from addiction experts and a panel of judges running successful specialty dockets on drug use.
The Belmont County team discussed challenges for addressing opiate addiction, strategized around potential solutions, and developed an action plan to ensure that non-violent offenders receive appropriate judicial and clinical interventions and services.