LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – Just days after an image of a woman and man unconscious from an apparent overdose went viral on the internet, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine decided he would come to town.
DeWine met with local lawmakers and law enforcement Tuesday morning in Lisbon to talk about the opiate epidemic in the area. Recovery and health care officials were also invited to the drug summit at the Columbiana County Government Center.
He said everyone invited needed to get together to really talk about the drug problem and finding a solution.
“Bluntly, we’re not just going to arrest our way out of this problem,” DeWine said. “It’s just not going to happen.”
The event was hosted by State Representative Tim Ginter, who decided to bring everyone together in one place to form a plan of attack to battle the growing addiction problem.
“Given recent events in East Liverpool that have shed light on how horrific this drug epidemic can really be, it is important we work together, transcending all party affiliations, to find solutions as soon as possible in coordination with our local communities,” Ginter said.
Law enforcement can’t be the only group to fix the problem. DeWine says it has to be a joint effort between teachers and educators, local churches and medical personnel.
He thinks the consequences of drug usage should be taught in schools, starting in kindergarten.
“I think what we really have to do is start in kindergarten and go every grade through the 12th grade. You wouldn’t teach math, or science, or anything else and just teach 5th or 9th grade,” DeWine said. “That’s really what we are doing about this drug problem and about drug education, so I think prevention and education is key.”
Many at the summit agreed, including a couple of judges. They said it would be good to get the schools to come to the courts and see firsthand what doing or selling drugs can do.
DeWine added that the state’s jails and prisons can’t be relied upon to act as a detox facility for those using drugs. He says that is what they’ve become and that it’s not going to create any solutions to the epidemic.
The viral internet post that compelled Ginter and DeWine to call for the drug summit happened during a September traffic stop in East Liverpool.
The car was driving erratically, according to police. When it finally stopped, the officer said 50-year-old Rhonda Pasek was already unconscious and 47-year-old James Acord passed out a short time later.
A 4-year-old boy was sitting quietly in the backseat throughout the ordeal.