By: Grant Goetcheus
The war on drugs has been a long and hard battle. It all started in the 1970’s under President Nixon. Since then, there has been no relief from this war; only more casualties and more dollars spent trying to fight the seemingly endless enemy.
On Wednesday, March 11, the University of Findlay’s Public Relations Society of America (PRSSA) hosted a screening of the Academy Award Nominated Documentary Film Heroin(e) followed by a panel discussion with local officials. The documentary focuses on Huntington, WV, an area that has become the epicenter of the opioid epidemic that modern day America is facing. Elaine Sheldon is a West Virginia native and is the director of the documentary. The film centers around three women that are trying to combat this epidemic.
The film shows what it is like for the people trying to help those that are affected by this disease. Huntington is not the only place that is struggling. Here in Hancock county there is a problem as well. Co-President of PRSSA Macaulay Williams helped put the event together and moderated the panel discussion. He explains that his group saw the film in class and wanted to share it with the community. The film is available on Netflix and the company granted permission for UF’s PRSSA to screen the film since it was for a non-profit event and there was no clear indications that Netflix was endorsing it. The panel consisted of:
• Chief Rob Martin of Hanco EMS
• Barb Wilhelm, Deputy Health Commission for Hancock Public Health
• Percia Stuby, Executive Director at Hancock County ADAMHS Board
• Bill Fedirka, coordinator for the Quick Response Team
• Judge Reginal Routson, Hancock County Common Pleas Court
• Elaine Sheldon, director of Heroin(e)
After the 50 minute film was played, the panelists arrived on stage for Williams to begin asking them questions about Hancock County’s personal problem of opioid and drug addiction. Many things were discussed including how to solve the problem, what the factors of the problem are and how to measure success of fixing the problem.
Judge Rouston is the judge that oversees the Hancock County drug court. He was honest with the audience when asked about measuring success.
“I don’t know what success is,” explained Rouston. “I had someone that has graduated from the drug court that was just back in court today because they relapsed. I have seen a few that are unsuccessful, but I don’t know what success looks like.”
The community found the event to be educational and supportive as well. UF Student Paulina Arellano says she found the event to be eye-opening.
“I believe that it is important to have these events because of having a high number of people doing heroine that don’t know what to do and where to find help,” said Arellano. “The community needs to be informed about what to do and to not just turn the other cheek when they are presented with an overdose situation.”