Tackling opioid crisis requires collaborative effort in area

Community stakeholders have been working behind the scenes to explore steps that can be taken locally to help people who have become hooked on painkillers and other opioid drugs to beat their addiction and return to productive roles in society.

For example, the city has been working with the renowned Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation near Minneapolis in an effort to glean possible solutions for overcoming the city’s growing opioid crisis.

The number of overdose calls in Bartholomew County in January and February doubled from 2016 to 2017. Last year, 12 people in the county died from heroin overdoses — more than the previous three years combined.

Understanding the problem and taking action must be community priorities, and not just for police, local governments and schools. All county resident have a stake in this, because taxpayers foot the bill for expenses associated with addiction — such as crime, court costs and incarceration.

Residents can’t afford to be bystanders in a problem that touches a wide rage of people and ages.

Local people can learn more about the depth of this problem and ways to help by attending “Moving the Needle,” a 6:30 p.m. April 19 program at The Commons, 300 Washington St. in Columbus, where people can learn how the community of Portsmouth, Ohio, confronted drug abuse.

One potential solution that has been identified locally is development of an in-patient, drug-addiction facility, where the root causes of addiction could be treated.

Considering that this could be a cost-prohibitive proposition for Columbus to undertake by itself, it would make sense for the city to collaborate with potential partners across south-central Indiana on solutions such as a regional inpatient drug-treatment facility.

Working together on solutions makes sense. Doing nothing does not.

The status quo is not working and taking no action is not an option. The community needs new solutions and this approach looks like it has great potential.

We applaud the work so far of community volunteers, and encourage others to help build momentum.