Hamilton County Heroin Coalition

Statement of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition

In Response to Potential Legislation Regarding Opioid Settlement Funds

The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition was formed in 2015 in response to the Opioid Epidemic in our region. Since then is has developed into a nationally recognized model for inter-agency communication, collaboration, and innovation. As significant as that recognition may be, the HCHC was not founded to win praise, but rather out of necessity.  The institutions of local government, many of which make up the Heroin Coalition, have felt a tremendous strain because of the opioid crisis.  Local Police Departments, the Hamilton County Sheriff, The Coroner, County Courts, The Justice Center, The Hamilton County Public Health District, The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, and the Child Welfare System, just to name a few, have been inundated with rising demands in the wake of this opioid crisis.

 The Heroin Coalition Partners responded to this demand by creating new collaborative programs designed to remove deadly drugs from our community, prevent secondary harms of intravenous drug use, get people into addiction treatment, and work on preventing drug use in future generations. These efforts have included:

  •        deployment of Quick Response Teams county wide;
  •        opening of the Talbert House Engagement Center;
  •         Expanding community treatment capacity and providing 7-day/week access to treatment;
  •          Adopting community-wide protocols in Hospital Emergency Rooms
  •         Massive Scale distribution of the life-saving drug Naloxone;
  •         Harm Reduction vans providing critical medical care throughout the county;
  •          Assisting local neighborhoods in forming prevention coalitions and working with schools on prevention resources;
  •         Creation of the Heroin Task Force which investigates drug-related deaths to track down drug traffickers;
  •         Distributing a Tool Kit for faith leaders;
  •         Hosting educational forums for employers;
  •          Development of a Pre-Arrest Diversion Program;
  •         And more

While these programs are providing a meaningful impact, and should save tax dollars in the long term, creating them required resources. Moreover, local government budgets have been strained by the increased caseloads for EMS, Police, Courts, the Jail, and Child Welfare.  

In short, the Heroin Coalition came into being because local governments are on the front lines of the opioid crisis, and a rapid collaborative response was necessary.

For those same reasons, in a move supported by the Heroin Coalition, the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Commissioners joined hundreds of local governments across the nation in filing suit against the distributors of prescription opioid drugs whose negligence contributed to the widespread incidence of addiction in our community.

Those suits are still pending, but as news broke about large judgments and settlements in similar cases, the Ohio Attorney General and others took steps to attempt to intercept any potential settlement or judgment and deprive Hamilton County of local control over any settlement proceeds.  The Heroin Coalition opposes this late attempt to divert money from the people who are suffering from this epidemic and to hoard it in the state capitol.  The Heroin Coalition is heartened and grateful that Governor Dewine has spoken out in support of local communities.

Over the last several months, the Heroin Coalition has had preliminary discussions about the governing principles that should govern the use of settlement funds locally. The prime directives of those principles are local control and collaboration.  The funding must go toward the programs, many of which are listed above, which will help alleviate the strain of the opioid crisis on our regional systems.  The funding should support the Heroin Coalition’s four focus areas of supply reduction, treatment, harm reduction, and prevention.

Any plan for spending settlement funds should be guided by a collaborative body adhering to the following principles:

  •         Keeping diverse interests at the table;
  •         Coalescing around common goals;
  •          Promoting evidence-based practice;
  •          Sharing of knowledge;
  •          Evaluation teams;
  •         Standardization with room for variability based on community-specific needs; and
  •          Local control 

Hamilton County has a head start on this effort because of the preexisting partnerships formed through the Heroin Coalition. Our Hospital Systems, Treatment Providers, Law Enforcement Agencies, First Responders, Local Governments, Nonprofit agencies, the Faith Community, and the Business Community already communicate and collaborate frequently. We are in a strong position to develop a cooperative approach to allocate any potential settlement funds to the areas where they will make the most impact and help those suffering in our community. 

Opioid addiction doesn’t discriminate – it affects all kinds of people, from all kinds of backgrounds, from every neighborhood across our county. It’s a chronic illness, not a choice. And it’s why the HCHC was formed.

The HCHC is a group of community members, leaders, advocates and experts dedicated to ending the opiate epidemic in our community. We are a collective force of
resources that provide access to care, when and where people need it most. We connect prevention options to treatment specialists to public health officials to law
enforcement – bringing together the right resources for real results that make a real difference. Together, we deeply and holistically treat this illness, and address its impact on Hamilton County. Together, we save lives and strengthen families. And together, we fight addiction for the health and wellness of all.

Who we are:
We are an action team who connect people to the right resources and right treatments.

What we do:
We address addiction through best practices and 360° solutions. We set strategies, break down barriers and connect systems to create impact. We function within
five areas of expertise:
• Prevention
• Treatment
• Harm Reduction
• Law Enforcement
• 1st Responders

Why we matter:
Opioid addiction deeply affects our community and every person in it. Every member of the HCHC has been impacted or lost someone from this epidemic. The numbers are
staggering. The struggle is real. Our help is critical. Whatwe do is truly a matter of life and death.

2019 State of Heroin Crisis

State of Heroin Crisis 2019
24/7 Hotlines

Addiction Services Council
Local: (513) 281-7880
Kentucky: (859) 415-9280

Beckett Springs
(513) 817-0907

(513) 834-7063

Mental Health Hotline
(513) 281-CARE

Drug & Poison Information Center (DPIC)
(513) 636-5111

Contact Information
Program Administrator
Meagan Gosney (513) 946-4311

Social Media
Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Facebook Page