By Francesca Sacco
State and local law enforcement, health and court officials had the opportunity Tuesday to vent their frustrations and concerns about the growing opiate problem at a roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers.
Stivers, R-Ohio, said the opiate problem is greatly affecting communities.
"It's a problem everywhere," Stivers said. "As (Chillicothe Mayor) Jack Everson and (Fairfield County Sheriff) Dave Phalen said, crime in the communities is being driven by addiction."
In addition to discussing the effects of addiction on their local communities, officials also called for more funding, additional jail space and stronger consequences to help in fight the opiate problem.
Hocking County Opiate Court Judge Fred Moses said the situation has become desperate.
"Counties don't have the funding to deal with addicts," Moses said. "Most of the time, addicts are not necessarily criminals. They have underlying mental health issues that cause them to turn to drugs."
Many officials posed questions to their peers, asking them whether they thought the proper actions are being taken to combat the problem.
"Do we cut off the supply or the demand?" Everson asked.
While he wasn't expecting to solve the problem in one day, Stivers said he thought the discussion was a success.
"We aren't going to solve the crisis in a two-hour meeting," he said. "But we came away with action steps."
Many officials were glad Stivers was willing to meet with them to discuss the topic.
Pickaway County Sheriff Robert Radcliff said the battle against opiates seems never-ending.
"You close down a drug house or make a large bust, and it seems like ones pop up to replace it," Radcliff said. "I'm glad the congressman put this meeting together. Everyone has problems with this."
Fairfield County Prosecutor Gregg Marx said he was pleased to find Stivers so interested in the topic and agreed the meeting was a success.
"I was aware that other counties were facing the similar problems, but it was interesting to hear their approaches," Marx said. "It's always good when elected officials come together to discuss these things."