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Speakers share scope of crisis on International Overdose Awareness Day

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Theresa McMillan, with the Medina County Health Department, shows a overdose antidote kit to the crowd Friday during an International Overdose Awareness Day event held by the Recovery Center of Medina County at Neura Park in Brunswick. ALYSSA ALFANO / GAZETTE

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BRUNSWICK — Brunswick police Lt. Robert Safran said Friday that he is often asked by community members about what law enforcement is doing to address the opioid problem.

“One of the things we do is we go after drug dealers in the community. People who are selling this stuff on the streets, people who are poisoning and ruining people’s lives,” Safran said during an International Overdose Awareness Day event held by the Recovery Center of Medina County at Neura Park.

According to Safran, the Medina County Opioid Task Force conducted 73 investigations that lead to 54 drug trafficking arrests last year.

Something else that the department does is that they do not arrest people who have overdosed for the first time due to Ohio’s Good Samaritan Law, which offers some legal immunity to people who overdose.

“We want them to get help,” said Safran. “We don’t want to see them again from a law enforcement perspective.”

Resident Megan Hawkins shared her story about addiction Friday. Hawkins explained that, despite growing up with good parents, “I never felt like I belonged.”

“When I turned 21 … I started drinking. I was an alcoholic within six months, but I didn’t know that,” said Hawkins.

In addition to alcohol, Hawkins said she started using ecstasy and cocaine and later got into heroin.

After entering her second marriage and having her second and third daughter, she and her husband decided to get clean.

“I met God in the middle of a living room with a pocket full of dope and a fifth of alcohol,” said Ken Hawkins after the presentation.

Ken Hawkins is now a pastor and the leader of Really Recovered, a church at 120 Main St. in Wadsworth.

The Hawkins have been clean for four years and have turned to faith to help themselves and others.

Theresa McMillan from the Medina County Health Department discussed Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone).

Project DAWN is an overdose education and naloxone distribution program where community members can go through a short training session to learn how to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose, perform rescue breathing and administer the overdose antidote naloxone.

After completing the free training, participants receive two doses of naloxone and a certification that is valid for two years.

Later Friday evening, another International Overdose Awareness Day event was held at Cornerstone Chapel in Medina.

The chapel had collected about 200 photos of those lost due to drugs or alcohol and 200 seats in the chapel were left empty to honor those who have died.

There was music, speakers and resource tables as well as a moment of silence and candle lighting to raise awareness.

Contact reporter Alyssa Alfano at (330) 721-4063 or aalfano@medina-gazette.com.

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