The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


         An opioid epidemic community forum is planned for Thursday, Oct. 26 in the auditorium of the Northwood Schools Arts, Athletics and Administration Building (the old high school), 500 Lemoyne Rd.

        The forum consists of a panel discussion that includes emergency care teams from Bay Park and Flower hospitals, a speaker from Team Recovery, which is in the process of opening up seven recovery centers, Oregon EMS first responders, and family members who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction, and a detective from Lake Township. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the panel discussion starting at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m.

        “It’s something that our board has talked about for three years,” said Brett Tscherne, director of Eggleston Meinert & Pavley Funeral Home who is on the board of the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the event. “It’s something that we wanted to speak out about and put something together for the community because it’s such a crisis and epidemic. We kicked around the idea, and now it’s coming to fruition.”

        Fliers and literature will be available to the public at the forum.


Family loss

        Tscherne said he has experienced loss in his family to opioid addiction.

        “Unfortunately, on July 17, my cousin overdosed on heroin,” he said. “I’ve been on the board for three years, throwing this idea around and I never thought in a million years I would be on the other end of this. We were oblivious. We had no idea.  It’s a horrible, horrible thing. We didn’t know he had an issue. This forum will let everyone know that there is an issue, and hopefully lead them to look for signs.  Now is the time to get the information out there so people can reach out if they need it. There are a lot of families that see the signs, know their kids are doing it and are dealing with it.”

        He estimates up to 90 percent of young people who end up at the funeral home accidentally overdosed on opioids.

        And the opioid fentanyl, he said, “is what we’re seeing.”

        “It’s what’s killing our kids.”

        He’s also seeing professionals, such as engineers, lose everything to opioid addiction.

        “It hits all walks of life,” he said. “It does not discriminate.”

On the rise

        Ohio’s opioid epidemic continued to rise last year, according to a report released by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) in August.

        The report shows a sharp rise in overdose deaths involving fentanyl, the emergence of more deadly fentanyl-related drugs like carfentanil, and indications that cocaine is now being used with fentanyl and other opiates.

        Overdose deaths increased from 3,050 in 2015 to 4,050 last year, and fentanyl and related drugs were involved in 58.2 percent of them. By comparison, fentanyl was involved in 37.9 percent of overdose deaths in 2015, 19.9 percent in 2014, 4 percent in 2013 and 3.9 percent in 2012.

        Illegally produced fentanyl can be hundreds of times stronger than heroin, and carfentanil and other related drugs can be even stronger, according to the report. With the emergence of carfentanil in 2016, the fentanyl-related drug was involved in 340 overdose deaths, most of them during the second half of the year. The number of cocaine-related overdose deaths increased from 685 in 2015 to 1,109 in 2016 – a 61.9 percent increase. Of cocaine-related overdose deaths, 80.2 percent also involved an opiate, and 55.8 percent involved fentanyl and related opiates in particular.

        The report also includes some promising news – the fewest prescription opioid overdose deaths since 2009.

        “The continued increase in opioid-related deaths reaffirms that we still have much work to do, but Ohio is seeing important progress in reducing the number of prescription opioids available for abuse and prescription-related overdose deaths,” said Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and interim medical director of ODH. “This progress is significant because prescription opioid abuse is frequently a gateway to heroin and fentanyl use later on.”

        Tscherne said if the forum is well attended, he would like to plan similar events.

        “We would be more than open to a series of forums to piggy back on this if it’s received well,” he said.



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