Last updated: August 25. 2013 9:17AM - 50 Views

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Living in a small town was supposed to provide people with some sort of imaginary shelter against big city problems such as drug abuse. After all, everybody knows everybody in small towns.Drug abuse, as it turns out, has no boundaries.The new, more devastating drug culture has slipped into the homes of Delphos, Celina and Kenton. It shows no signs of going away, either.Delphos is a prime example of how it can sneak into a community and not let go. Since November, police have conducted nine raids in one of this area’s most proud and tightly-knit towns. That in itself speaks volumes. As a story Sunday in The Lima News noted, the landscape for smaller towns began changing in the last five years when abusers turned from crack to heroin and opiate-based pain pills. It is to the point that drug agents say they are almost surprised if they buy cocaine of any type.None of us can afford to fool ourselves into believing this is a victimless crime that only harms the abuser. The prevalence of opiates is poisoning all sectors of society and people, regardless of socioeconomic class, regardless of education level.A series of surveys and forums with area employers over the last year revealed they are having troubles filling jobs because applicants are unable to pass drug tests.“I had a trucking company that actually interviewed 104 applicants and only two passed the drug test. It is a problem for businesses today more than ever,” said Jed Metzger, of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce.A report from the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services shows that since 2007, unintentional drug overdoses were the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio. Fatal and nonfatal poisonings cost Ohioans more than $3.6 billion annually, another report from the Ohio Department of Health reported.“It has literally stood the treatment industry on its head,” said Phil Atkins, of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties. “I was an alcohol and drug counselor starting in 1988. We saw crack come. We saw methamphetamine come, but never anything as pervasive as this opiate epidemic.”Fortunately, the state has a system in place that requires all pharmacies in Ohio to track and upload information on who is getting prescribed certain powerful medications, how much they have been given, who issued the prescription and where it was filled. The system is designed to enable other pharmacies to identify potential abuse issues and refuse to fill potentially fraudulent prescriptions.In early May, Gov. John Kasich and representatives from the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team announced the establishment of statewide opiate drug prescribing guidelines for emergency departments and acute care facilities.Communities also are joining forces to address the epidemic. We cannot afford to sit back and allow opiate-based drugs destroy our towns or families.

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