DAYTON — It’s two weeks into the new year and seven people have died of drug overdoses in Montgomery County, according to Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County’s online overdose dashboard.
The county’s latest figures showed the number of people who died from drugs last year was up more than 3% from 2020.
Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) supports approximately 50 mental and addictions care providers in the county. They believe more treatment centers are needed in more communities.
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“People need access to quality treatment and that access may be different everywhere,” said Tina Rezash Rogal, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications at ADAMHS.
Razash said Montgomery County has been through a lot in recent years and while its residents have made progress, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the mental health of many people.
“The pandemic has obviously had an impact on people’s mental health, right after the tornadoes and the mass shootings in the District of Oregon,” Rezash said.
In 2021, the Public Health Community Overdose Action Team said the county had 335 overdose deaths. Before the pandemic, in 2019, the team said there were 288.
“We know people are struggling. They are stressed. They deal with anxiety and they are afraid. These things can all lead to increased mental health issues and substance use,” Rezash said.
To help, Full Circle Recovery Services in Dayton announced plans to open an addiction treatment center in the former Livingston Care Center on Livingston Avenue. Company CEO John Pawelski said he fielded countless overdose calls as a former Dayton police officer.
“I was on the side of thinking that the way we solved the addiction was to make more arrests,” Pawelski said.
Today Pawelski said he doesn’t think that’s the way to solve the problem.
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Pawelski said he believes his facility will give people who are serious about getting clean the resources to do so.
“We test people. We test them weekly, sometimes twice a week, as needed. We do random testing because we want to make sure that if they say they’re clean, they are,” Pawelski said.
Patients admitted to the clinic will have access to addiction assessments, outpatient clinical care, group counseling and prescribed opioid addiction treatment, such as Suboxone.
The city’s planning and zoning department approved Pawelski’s plan, but some neighbors of the future clinic said they were upset and worried.
At an informal community meeting earlier this week, nearby residents of the future clinic compound expressed their concerns.
“I’m worried about the clinic users as much as the people who live here and yes there are much better places to put it,” said Wendy Parker, who lives in the neighborhood.
Rezash said setting up the clinic in this area can provide access to those who may not have it.
“If opening a new treatment facility in an area that may not have others nearby can provide additional access for people in that neighborhood, we think that’s a good thing as long as that this processing provider follows all rules and regulations,” Rezash says.
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