In the wild, female elephants form a tight circle on two occasions: when another female is giving birth or if they’re under attack by lions or other predators. At these vulnerable times, they stand shoulder to shoulder forming a wall of tusks and muscles that cannot be penetrated. When the female is giving birth, her friends snort, stomp, kick up grass – telling potential predators that they have to go through literally tons of elephant to get to their friend while she’s weak and defenseless.
This is what Summit County has done. When our community is being attacked, we have put people inside our protective circle. People with substance use disorder are being surrounded by treatment centers, recovery coaches, law enforcement and fire departments, counselors, faith based communities and funding organizations. While the need for increased treatment and support remains, Summit County has done much in the past two years to eliminate gaps in service, working to ensure that every person with addiction can get the help they need when they need it.
We’re also surrounding youth with support. The County of Summit ADM Board has invested in evidence-based youth prevention services. The PAX Good Behavior Game as well as Ohio Guidestone’s and Project PANDA’s youth-led prevention services, seek to equip students with resiliency skills that protect youth from risky behaviors such as substance use.
When Summit County Community Partnership (SCCP) kicked-off The Deterra Project last August, Summit County once again moved to create a protective circle to those most vulnerable to opiate use. You responded to the challenge to properly dispose of 1.3 million opiates last year. Over thirty organizations have partnered with SCCP to distribute drug deactivation pouches, with the goal of eliminating 1.3 million unused opiates from Summit County medicine cabinets. At the time of this writing, 34,000 pouches are being distributed in the community. Targeting those most likely to have unused opiates, SCCP partners are asking seniors, parents, patients with short-term opiate prescriptions and loved ones of individuals with substance use disorders, to clean out their medicine cabinets.
Has Summit County risen to this challenge? Overwhelmingly yes. You have shown up – done the small thing, which is actually the big thing – and you are making our community safer. You are encircling our children to protect them from a deadly disease – and you are doing it in droves.
We’ve received feedback from over 500 of you. We’ll be unveiling the report at our one year celebration on August 31, 2017. Save the date and keep your eyes open for more details.
Until then, thank you for all you are doing to prevent addiction and keep up the good work!