The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Apr. 21, 2024

Treating heroin as a health issue

When I heard “I sleep the best when my kid is in jail” I was shocked, but I quickly understood that parents sleep better when they know their children are safe. I know I do. Think about it — it may be a jail cell, but a parent knows it’s a safe place where their child can do themselves no harm. During that time they won’t find their child dead in their home from an overdose or get a call to rush to the hospital. The stress and worry of living with a heroin addict is relieved for just a bit. But law enforcement alone cannot wipe out the problem.

By Staci Kaufman
By Staci Kaufman

Families in Van Wert County are being ripped apart by heroin addiction.  According to Pastor Melissa Steinecker, Convoy United Methodist Church, it truly is the epidemic we have heard about nationwide.

Treating addiction as a health issue makes sense. State funds may be available, such as those Ross County received, to mobilize a community of professionals across various entities who work in related fields impacted by heroin addiction.

The Sequential Intercept Mapping model was utilized to find the gaps in Ross County’s communities and bring people together to work toward closing those gaps. The gaps Chillicothe identified, per Teri Minney, director of the Heroin Partnership Project, are quoted in the article, “Heroin Partnership Program plans for action”, by Sara Nealeigh, reporter, published on December 8, 2015:

Does Van Wert County want to hang onto the thriving community we have, and not let the impact of heroin addiction grow so large that it deflects interest in our community for new residents, returning high school graduates, or new economic development? I am still learning a lot about the resources we have in our county to battle heroin addiction. There is a support group, Parents, Partners, and Pals of Prodigals in Convoy. None in the group are professionals, but Steinecker has insight and experience with victims of both heroin and opiate addiction. It is a step in the right direction by offering support to afflicted families in a safe non-judgmental environment.

Mobilizing people who have been impacted and people whose work deals with the result of heroin and opiate addictions to identify what they need is crucial. The support group meets at Hall’s Lumber, in a building out back where there is a secluded, non-threatening environment to listen and share — and sometimes to come to the realization that enabling is happening in the home itself.

We have a successful drug court, just starting its second year. Its scope can only serve so many, and many who need help aren’t going to qualify for the drug court program. Those afflicted must want to help themselves.

What additional resources and effort can be made to move us further into treating heroin addiction as a health issue?   The targets identified in the Chillicothe-based article by Nealeigh are these:

  • addressing a housing continuum
  • adding family and co-dependents into the equation to bring them awareness and education
  • getting protocol at their local health care system for releasing clients and referring them to treatment after an overdose
  • establishing opiate prescription guidelines
  • exploring medically assisted treatment options

Can Van Wert County do more to help family members of addicts find strategies to cope? The stress is enormous, as often addicts turn to crime to get money for their next hit. And according to Steinecker, human trafficking and prostitution are interlaced with heroin and opiate addiction.

Can grant funds can be sought to help county entities battle heroin addiction’s detrimental effect on our county? Working to help families and addicts, and increasing education for all about heroin addiction, will lessen the number of addictions and overdoses suffered by our county residents. And parents (and partners and pals) will sleep better more often.

For more information on the support group, contact Convoy United Methodist church. Information will be posted on the church website,, soon.

POSTED: 01/08/16 at 7:41 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions