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Report: Regional Convening on Opiates and Substance Use Disorders in Appalachian Ohio

Across Appalachian Ohio, we are facing the overwhelming effects of substance use disorder and opiates, and the repercussions are visible on children, families and communities. Resolving this crisis will take cross-sector collaboration and partnership, which means bringing people who work in different aspects of prevention, treatment, and recovery together in dialogue and action along with those working to address the factors at the root of substance use disorder, such as community and economic development.

In this spirit, partners from across Appalachian Ohio gathered in Nelsonville in November, 2018 for a regional convening focused on opioids and substance use disorders in our communities. The event was sponsored by the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, the Nationwide Foundation, the 317 Board, Ohio University, and the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation.

The event had an atmosphere of learning from one another, of truly listening, and of thinking about how we can reach across geographic and practice boundaries. Because experts at work in our region have such deep experience to share, this discussion was focused on hearing from local mental health and addiction services boards and substance use disorder providers. Many in attendance reflected on how good it was to sit down across county lines to discuss what we can all focus on together in our communities and where funders might pay particular attention.

From these discussions, several key themes emerged:

  • We cannot focus solely on opioids. We need to have conversations about substance use disorder and we need to consider the role of trauma;
  • We need to continue to destigmatize substance use disorder and change a culture of zero tolerance;
  • Policy can play a significant role in having the resources and environment to address substance use disorder;
  • Substance use disorder is more than a health issue and we have to approach it that way;
  • We need ways to assess our success together, see what’s working, and share the results back out;
  • Develop, sustain, and value the prevention, recovery, and treatment workforce for the region; and
  • Prevention is essential, but should be focused across the lifespan.

A full report on the convening is available here.

For additional information, click here to view the convening agenda, and click here to view the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance’s presentation to the convening on their prevention campaign, sponsored by Nationwide Foundation. Click here to view the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance webpage, where you will find Alliance partners, Denial, OH campaign videos, and helpful resources, such as tips on how to talk to your kids about substance use, information on how to dispose of leftover prescription drugs, and more.