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Panel to look at how heroin affects area

Recovering addict, others to talk at Perrysburg event

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    Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn will moderate a panel on heroin addiction and its effects May 23 at Way Public Library in Perrysburg.

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Personal stories and professional experience with heroin will be coming to Perrysburg.

The Way Public Library and the League of Women Voters of the Perrysburg Area will host a panel discussion May 23 about the heroin epidemic facing the community, particularly focusing on its effects on Wood County.

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Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn will moderate a panel on heroin addiction and its effects May 23 at Way Public Library in Perrysburg.

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“I think a lot of people attach it to people of lower income, which is not true,” said Carol Russell, who helped organize the event with the league.

The panel, moderated by Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, also will include Wood County Coroner Dr. Douglas Hess and Matt Bell, the president and co-founder of Team Recovery who is also a recovering addict. They hope to inform area residents that no community, particularly in Ohio, is exempt from opiates.

“Knowledge of the problem is most important,” Sheriff Wasylyshyn said.

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He plans to discuss how addiction became common, focusing on the easy prescription of addictive opioid painkillers, and steps to reduce addiction, like limiting those prescriptions’ lengths to a week, as the state of Ohio recently did.

“It’s going to be harder for someone to get addicted,” he said.

It is a cycle Mr. Bell knows well. A baseball player with a full scholarship to the University of Toledo, he became addicted to Percocet prescribed to treat pain from an injury. That started a nine-year heroin addiction before he got clean in 2015, when he founded Team Recovery. The nonprofit has spoken to 27,000 students at 55 schools, referred over 1,000 people into detox, treatment, or housing, and started a family support group meeting where up to 300 people come each week.

As a frequent speaker, Mr. Bell said he will tailor his speech to the audience in a community that does not have the same number of overdoses as Toledo.

“We’re finding a lot of people coming from nicer areas [into] Toledo” to purchase and immediately use heroin, he said, leading to higher overdose numbers in the city. “The drugs are gone by the time they get back to Wood County.

He hopes the panel can get those who need help into treatment, along with offering support to family members.

The panel will start at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public in the Way Library’s lower level meeting rooms.

Contact Zack Lemon at:zlemon@theblade.com,419-724-6282, or on Twitter @zack_lemon.

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