AVON LAKE — Near the end of a community forum called last month to discuss the sobering reality of drug deaths and what can be done on a local level to combat them, the need to continue offering help was emphasized when a woman stood to ask a question.
“She blurted out ‘What’s next?’ and ‘Where do we go from here?’ ” Lisa Goodwin, the city’s recreation program director, said.
“I knew that question was coming, and we knew what’s next is to continue to put together resources and people willing to listen and put ourselves out there,” Goodwin said.
The second forum to discuss local efforts to reduce drug use and help those struggling with addiction is 6:30 to 9 p.m. Aug. 13 at Avon Lake Public Library.
The first meeting June 11 at the library drew about 300 people.
“We had an overflow room set up in the library basement with audio and video feed for those who got there late or wanted privacy to observe things,” Goodwin said.
“You just can’t offer something and walk away from it after a turnout like that,” Goodwin said. “This (drug issues) is never going away. We wanted to strike while the iron is hot.”
Local officials began working to host the second meeting, which will be a mix of speakers including a DEA agent and Tom Stuber, executive director of the Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, and some 25 social service, treatment and support groups offering information and personnel in a low-key, informal setting designed to encourage people to discuss problems and ask for help.
“We don’t have all the answers or solutions, but this type of expo-style forum makes it less overwhelming by letting people talk face to face,” Goodwin said.
The June meeting was organized after Mayor Greg Zilka put out a call for such a gathering after being motivated by Goodwin, who met with limited success when she helped form Avon Lake Unites for Teens in 2006 to try and inform the community about drug issues.
“The community wasn’t ready to make changes,” Goodwin said of the effort.
But times have changed and so have public attitudes after four Avon Lake residents, all in their 20s, died of drug-related deaths from August 2011 to April 2012.
Lorain County recorded 60 deaths from prescription drugs, heroin and other illegal substances in 2012. That nearly tripled the 22 drug deaths in 2011.
Subjects to be addressed at the Aug. 13 session will span the gamut from drug enforcement by the DEA, and what steps individuals can take to report suspected drug activity as well as what to look for if someone is unsure if they are witnessing drug activity.
“We want to teach people what to look for and why it’s important to report (suspected activity),” Goodwin said.
A local pharmacist will talk about steps being taken to reduce availability to drugs, and which drugs, such as Oxycontin, are sought after and abused.
Stuber will discuss prevention and treatment options. Avon Lake Public Library is at 32649 Electric Blvd.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.