Oberlin Advocates Help Fight Opioid Epidemic

Advocates from three organizations gathered in Tappan Square in Oberlin to promote their mission to help end the opioid epidemic.

In the southern part of Lorain County, a women’s group spent time educating the public about addiction and local services to help those in mental health need.

Addiction has been at the forefront of the Lorain County Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board (MHARS), like many others, for several years.

MHARS is campaigning across the region to promote open communication with drug users and their families about their situation to better treat the person in need, said MHARS’ Jinx Mastney.

MHARS is also distributing, along with its partner organizations, Narcan kits, medical safes and drug disposal kits to help promote safety, Mastney said.

Jinx Mastney of the Lorain County Board of Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services holds a lockable medicine bag along with a medicine disposal kit in Oberlin’s Tappan Square on June 11.

Informing the public about where to go for help has been identified as a need in outlying communities such as Wellington and Oberlin as well as in smaller towns across the region, said Debbie Kelley, of the Rural Response Network (RRN ).

The RRN was formed in late 2020 to begin reaching people living in rural areas of the county who don’t have access to treatment centers close to home, Kelley said.

The opioid epidemic is prevalent in rural areas just as it is in urban areas, and people who are dependent on substances need to have resources to seek and receive the help they need, Kelley added.

The RRN was formed with this idea in mind and its mission is “to reduce overdoses and overdose deaths and to strengthen and expand the capacity of Oberlin, Wellington and surrounding rural townships to engage people at high risk and to provide substance and opioid use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery support services,” according to information released by Kelley.

The group, like MHARS, is like-minded in teaching acceptance and trying to end the stigma associated with substance use disorders, Kelley said.

“It’s important that family members don’t feel ashamed of (the drug addict),” Kelley said.

“We are trying to rebuild the community to help support this high-risk population,” she added.

The RRN is increasing its capacity with support funding from multiple sources, Kelley said.

“It’s really, really needed here,” she added.

(left) Isabella and her mother Aja Boland, Jinx Mastney, Debbie Kelley and Emily Winfield spent the morning of June 11 educating the public about addiction and helping services in Tappan Square, Oberlin.  (Heather Chapin - The Morning Paper)
From left, Isabella and her mother Aja Boland, Jinx Mastney, Debbie Kelley and Emily Winfield spent the morning of June 11 educating the public about addiction and helping services in Tappan Square, Oberlin. (Heather Chapin – The Morning Paper)

Another group, the LCADA Way, was represented by Emily Winfield, a prevention educator with the group.

The LCADA Way helps individuals and families as well as the community, as a whole, suffering from alcohol abuse, drug addiction and behavioral health problems.

The group focuses on education, prevention and treatment of alcohol abuse, drug addiction and behavioral health issues, according to its website.

Winfield teaches prevention classes to high school students in the southern region of Lorain County.

” That depends on the day. Sometimes I teach five classes a day,” Winfield said.

Addiction education, including gambling, is an important factor in battling addiction, Winfield said.

“We encourage people not to buy lottery tickets for kids. Sometimes all it takes is a big win,” Winfield warned.

Due to new changes in gambling laws, Winfield is tackling the subject of gambling fiercely as the sports season has begun and will also play a part in increasing gambling, she said.

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