Poland community leaders talk drug epidemic during panel

POLAND, Ohio (WYTV) – Holy Family Church in Poland hosted a special panel Monday night, as community leaders heard from people on the front lines of the opioid crisis.

“Roughly 20 million Americans are addicts and 90 percent are not going into care,” Carolyn Givens of Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic said. “We want to see people succeed. We want to see people be tax paying citizens, raising their children in some form of a unit.”

Givens was part of the addiction awareness panel. She has family members who struggled with addiction.

“Families should not go through this alone and people shouldn’t go through this alone,” Givens said. “I have turned my passion into advocacy.”

Panel members talked about the impact heroin is having on the community.

Poland native Elida Schiavone, a counselor for addiction and mental health, sees the affects firsthand.

“I wanted to hear what some other agencies are doing and just get their input on it,” she said.

Many families in the Valley are being impacted by the opioid crisis, but at the same time, some people say that they’re not directly impacted, so why should they care?

“I think these kind of problems affect all of us one way or another,” said Holy Family Pastor William Connell. “Especially on our friendships and family life.”

“Everybody is affected,” Givens said. “Whether it’s mentally, emotionally, physically or robberies. And there’s crime that affects everybody with prices, with their own homes, their own businesses.”

Givens said addiction also impacts the workforce.

“It can literally be a $440 billion loss to this country,” she said. “If we don’t look at that as an economic issue, I don’t know what is.”

Monday’s addiction awareness panel was just one thing Holy Family Church in Poland is doing.

Later this month on May 22, it’s going to have another discussion — this time about human trafficking awareness. Ohio State Highway Patrol is going to be a part of that discussion.