Tour brings awareness to prescription drug abuse

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — There were 13,000 prescription drug pill bottles lined up around Courthouse Square in Warren on Tuesday.

“Each bottle represents a person lost to the tragedy and behind each human being there is a family picking up the pieces,” said Kyle Schalow of the Rx Epidemic Memorial, a prescription drug awareness tour.

Kyle and April Schalow’s family was nearly torn apart because of April’s prescription drug addiction.

“He knew something was wrong and he confronted me and he told me he was going to take the kids and leave unless I told him what was wrong. I cracked. I didn’t want to lose my family,” April Schalow said.

The couple hopes to bring awareness about prescription drug addiction through their memorial to the towns they visit.

But the fight for funding to battle the growing addiction problem is not there. Trumbull County is slated to lose $1.2 million from the state as of July 1.

“And we are going to have to stretch our dollars to continue to serve not only mentally ill people, but also deal with this growing opiate epidemic,” said April Caraway, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board.

Trumbull County is seventh highest in the state for accidental opiate overdoses.

“That is one of the frustrating things. We have identified the problem and now we need to work on it and they are cutting funding, necessary treatment funding, that is going to help solve this problem,” said State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta.

State Sen. Capri Cafaro, D-Niles, said it’s not only about how much money is available, but how it is spent.

“One of the greatest challenges we have is a capacity for detox beds. And so if we do not have the capacity for that, then we are not going to appropriately treat folks as they try to come off these pain medications, come off heroin,” Cafaro said.

In the meantime, the Schalow’s  will continue to keep fighting as they take their message to the nation’s capital.

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