Issue 14 is a proposed 0.3-mill tax levy for the purpose of supporting human or social services, hospitalization and health for five years. The funds are anticipated bring in about $2 million annually and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an estimated $10.50 per year or 88 cents per month.
The county has focused the priority of Issue 14 to turn Golden Acres into Recovery One, which is anticipated to become Lorain County’s epicenter for recovery, filling in the gaps of services lacking in our county including detox, residential treatment, and recovery housing. The investment would be placed in a special general fund for the purposes of operations, function, and will cover shortfalls in unfunded treatment and recovery services for residents who will access services at Recovery One.
In 2017, Lorain County experienced 132 unintentional overdose deaths, according to the Lorain County coroner’s office. Fortunately the deaths are showing a lower amount of prescribed opiates due to new regulations. Unfortunately there are new trend of drugs for these deaths including heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and other man-made synthetic deadly ingredients. Just when we think we are catching up, our law enforcement reports other drugs entering into our communities. This is the reason that Lorain County is designated as both a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and a Synthetic Opioid Surge area.
Unintentional overdose deaths so far this year in Lorain County are lower than last year but our first responders continue about one overdose call each day. Every day, 2.5 residents report to our local hospital emergency rooms for overdose-related health issues. Every unintentional overdose drains resources in our communities, including the 911 call center, first responders, emergency rooms, and our justice system, and impacts families in our communities. We are already paying the burden of opioid and other substance use disorders in Lorain County.
According to a study sponsored through the Nord Family Foundation, Lorain County’s drug epidemic has a negative impact of $200 million. Or that, $139 million or about 70 percent is a negative impact on lost earnings, productivity including absenteeism, and employer health care costs of individuals struggling with opioid or other substance use disorders. The National Safety Council indicates that 75 percent of adults with substance use disorder are in the workforce. Across Ohio, 75 percent of children placed in foster care are there due to parental substance abuse and one out of six veterans struggle with addiction. No one is unaffected by addiction.
There is hope. Because of long-term recovery from substance use disorders, individuals are able to better their own lives, the lives of others, and their respective communities.
The Life in Recovery Survey indicates that 83 percent of individuals in recovery reported having a compensated stable job as a result of long-term recovery. Involvement in domestic violence decreased dramatically, frequent utilization of costly emergency room departments (other than for chronic condition) declines, and reports of no involvement with the legal system for those in recovery are significant.
Individuals will not have to hit their rock bottom to get help for addiction when Recovery One opens. For the 132 deaths last year in our county, the rock bottom was critical – they had no opportunity for recovery. For those lives we will save, the opportunity is immense.
Issue 14 will offset one percent of the negative impact of the burden of opioid and other substance use disorders in Lorain County.
Elaine Georgas is executive director of the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Lorain County.