Clermont County using unique treatment program; OD's keep falling
CLERMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WKRC) - You have probably heard plenty about the heroin epidemic and the growing number of overdoses, but now, there is news about the opposite.
Bucking the statewide trend in Ohio, one local county is seeing the number of overdoses go down.
Clermont County has gone from having the second highest number of overdose deaths to one of the lowest.
"I saw myself before I came here as nobody,” said Lisa Verdin.
But the words on the poster are how other addicts recovering here Clermont County jail's alternative Sentencing Center.
See Lisa Verdin. Mother of four and a 20-year addict.
"If it wasn't for my counselors no way I could be the person I am,” said Verdin.
Verdin was arrested for theft. She asked the judge to do her time at the center called CASC, a treatment program for addicts.
That includes recovery coaches and classes such as "Thinking for Change.” The program is approved by the state, but Clermont County is the only one in Ohio doing it. For Verdin, it's a chance to be a mother again.
"I'm not going to be able to change the past. I want a chance to show you what a mother is supposed to be like the mother I had,” said Verdin.
Up to 15 women can be treated. The new section opened up last year. Its paid for by a federal grant.
"My actions are manipulative sometimes. Now I feel I can reel myself in,” Verdin.
The men's section has been around since 2015. The county pays for that section. County leaders, businesses, law enforcement and families who lost loved ones to drugs made it happen.
"The people of Clermont County did not cause this opioid epidemic, but the people of Clermont County and taxpayers are putting their resources toward it,” said Clermont County Commissioner David Painter.
Overdose deaths in Clermont County are down again this year, even if you include all the pending cases that may not even be overdoses.
"In 2017, with all of the 19 cases pending that's 76. 20% reduction from '16. I don't think there is any place in Ohio or in the country,” said Clermont County Sheriff Robert Leahy.
Deputies carry Narcan and there is a waiting list to be on teams that reach out to addicts who OD and survive. They also help drug users before they OD. The sheriff is big on empathy. He has a family experience with heroin addiction.
"When you start looking at it, it really can happen to anyone. When I say that I don't say it lightheartedly. It can happen to anybody it really can,” said Verdin.
Adam overdosed twice. When he got arrested for unauthorized use of his father's car, he asked to be in the center. Now he can see a tomorrow.
"A dream of mine I want to own my own business. Green energy solar. That’s a dream of mine,” said Adam.
With CASC, it can happen.
Coaches with the Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services contract with the program to help residents apply for jobs, do interviews and handle paychecks.
"Sometimes we've gone with individuals to actually place in a bank account then withdraw it and give it to family, to build bridges with the family,” said Jasmine Varney of the Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services.
It's not just about getting off heroin, it’s about getting a life back. It can start with something as simple as a poster.
"I like this one. Determined, that's my favorite one. I'm determined to do this,” said Verdin.
In Clermont County, you or someone you know can get help through the Opiate Task Force.