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Report: Needle Sharing, Hepatitis C, And The Role Of The Courts In The Opioid Crisis

Despite the fact that needle exchange services have doubled in Ohio over the last three years, a new report finds, among other things, that opioid users continue to share needles.

The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network recently completed a series of focus groups with more than 300 opioid users, families of users, and those in the treatment field. The data was gathered during November 2017 through April 2018.

Persistent needle sharing was one key finding, along with 45% of users reporting that they tested positive for hepatitis C.

Family members also said that help wasn’t often available until the drug user overdosed or ended up in court. This “external crisis” is often the catalyst for someone to get help, says Pamela Gill of the nonprofit treatment center Recovery Resources.

"It’s either I need to get help, or you’re going to be in jail if you don’t," Gill said. "There’s some consequence or realization, and you have people around at that moment who are plugged in to be able to help facilitate."

Courts were cited as an effective coordinator of addiction services. All respondents, however, said additional opioid treatment services are needed in their communities.

Copyright 2019 WCPN