CAMDEN — Nearly 100 people attended the Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership’s town hall meeting on the heroin epidemic in Preble County, hosted at First Southern Baptist Church in Camden in April.
SAPP was organized just over 20 months ago and is made up of a group of county and municipal entities with a mission of spreading the word about the heroin issue within the county.
“Initially, I think we all took a step back and the first phase of this project is exactly what we are doing here,” said Mike Spitler, Chief Deputy of the Preble County Sheriff’s Office. “We’ve done it in several other communities and that’s to educate the public.”
Spitler said there are several people who have been touched by heroin who are familiar with how bad the issue is not only in the county and surrounding areas, but the country as well.
“But, what we’ve also found is that there are a lot of people that have no idea (how bad the epidemic is),” Spitler said.
Spitler said he is asked a few times a month if the heroin issue is that bad in Preble County.
“What you’re seeing on the news in other places is happening here,” he said. “The same frequency, same amount. Yes, we have a problem. We’re trying to deal with it. We can’t arrest our way out of this. We need you as a community to come forward and help.”
Spitler said communication among community members is key to helping solve the issue.
“The biggest thing we are asking the community to do is to talk about the problem. Educate your neighbors. Educate your friends. Educate your family,” he said. “If you have kids that are of that age — that they’re in junior high and possibly being exposed to this stuff in school — talk to them. Get a message out to them to stay away from this stuff.”
Several guest speakers shared their personal struggles during the town hall meeting. All said they hit rock bottom before seeking help.
Spitler said law enforcement began seeing the drug in the community some three to four years ago.
“Long before this ever hit the news, long before this became an issue. Law enforcement started seeing an issue, as did recovery and wellness and places that deal with this,” Spitler said.
Spitler said methamphetamines used to be the drug of choice but now it’s heroin.
Drug tips can be made locally at the Eaton Police Department, 937-456-5531, or at the Preble County Sheriff’s Office at 937-456-6262 — or online at the Preble County Sheriff’s Office website, www.preblecountysheriff.org.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.