BY D’ARCY EGAN
A pair of fatal drug overdoses last week in the Port Clinton area weren’t shocking, but they were discouraging. The deaths were a setback for the local groups and agencies struggling to help addicts find support and treatment.
“The overdoses just won’t seem to go away,” said Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick, dismayed by the news. “Commander Carl Rider of the Ottawa County Drug Task Force was right when he said this wasn’t something we can arrest our way out of. A collaborative community effort is the only way we’re going to turn this around.”
Ottawa County’s team effort is making a dent in the overdose situation, said Levorchick.
“It’s the effort made by all of us in law enforcement, aided by Judge Bruce Winters of the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court with the Ottawa County Drug Addiction Treatment Alliance,” said Levorchick. “Everyone involved with the Lighthouse Sober Living men’s and women’s homes in Port Clinton, and the many, many people at treatment centers in Ottawa and Erie counties involved in the recovery effort.”
This week’s death hit close to home for Kenn Bower Jr., director of Light House Sober Living that gives recovering men and women support and a place to live as they get back on their feet.
“One of the men who died was a friend of mine,” said Bower. “Someone I’ve known for a decent amount of time.”
“I’m never going to get used to an overdose death like this, to be OK with it,” he said. “I’m from Port Clinton and I often know these people, their families and loved ones. I think about that when I go to sleep at night, and when I wake up in the morning.
“Even though there have not been as many deaths as there were a couple of years ago, there still have been a similar amount of overdoses,” said Bower. “People are now more willing, though, to deal with an overdose, to call law enforcement and to save them. But there is just as much drug abuse going on as before.”
Bower said there definitely is hope. There are more local treatment options and an understanding that there will be a long road to recovery, something he managed to do after fighting an addiction years ago.
“There is so much more to it than just not using. It’s not a case of simply undergoing treatment and getting better, by any means,” said Bower. “It takes a lot of work, and a lifetime of preventative maintenance.
It takes willingness, and an enormous amount of drive and desire.”