CLEVELAND — Overdoses. They are costing Ohioans their lives and leaving the rest of us wondering how to attack the alarming rates we’re seeing in our area. In this “Finding A Fix” report, we examine the need for treatment facilities in Northeast Ohio and the concerns residents have for programs moving into their backyards.
“He was a normal, everyday kid,” said Robert Brant. What he and his family have gone through is just a nightmare. “People say, ‘Oh, share your story.’ It’s not a story. It’s our life,” said Brant.
Brant’s son Robby liked the way prescription drugs felt. “For him, it started with his wisdom teeth being taken out,” said Brant. So, when a friend offered him heroin, Robby was hooked, quickly. He was in the Marines about to go to Afghanistan, and it’s as if the heroin was calling his name. “‘Before you leave, one more time’…and that was the last time as he overdosed on heroin and passed away,” Brant reflected.
STARTING ROBBY'S VOICE, OPPOSITION
In an effort to relieve the pain and assist others, Brant helped start Robby’s Voice, a program offering resources, treatment, and a gathering place for addicts and their families.
“We were in this place that there’s only a few of us in this room know, few of us understand,” Brant could be heard saying during a group session with several people looking for help.
Brant opened Robby’s Voice in Medina in 2017, but not without opposition. Some residents didn’t want that kind of program in their backyard. “While I understand the concern that the residents have…100% understand it,” said Brant, “I also deeply, deeply feel for those who are trying to bring help forward.”
PARMA HEIGHTS METHADONE CLINIC PROPOSED
“The last thing we want is more addicts…inviting more addicts into our city,” said one man at the meeting.
“Why do we want other people’s problems in our city?” said another.
“I have talked to the business owners of this city. They do not want you here,” another person added.
One of those business owners is Barb Koncek. “Parma Heights police have kept me safe for the last 10 years and I don’t want them to be babysitting drug addicts walking up and down the street,” she said standing in front of the planning commission.
Koncek’s Shadows Bar and Grill is right next to the proposed methadone clinic. “You’ll see drug dealers who are sitting there and trying to feed on the people they know that they need the drugs,” she said during a News 5 interview after the meeting.
Some people are concerned about increased crime. BayMark representative said that wouldn’t be a problem. “Our patients do not want to lose their treatment. We are their life line,” said a woman from BayMark.
“This area, this community needs a facility like BayMark’s,” said an attorney for BayMark.
LOOKING AT CRIME REPORTS, STUDIES
MedMark is a subsidiary of BayMark and has a clinic in Kent. We asked for police incident records for the clinic since it opened. The only calls about MedMark were alarms going off that turned out to be nothing. Another MedMark location is in Amherst. We found no major crime reported since it opened. This is one incident of a “recovering addict caught trying to break into cars.”
Nationally, a report in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs showed drug treatment centers “do not impact community any more than other commercial businesses.” Plus, “violent crime associated with drug treatment center is similar to…liquor stores and it less frequent than…convenience…and corner stores.”
“What these medications do is just normalize brain functions so that people can participate in treatment services and ultimately return to be productive members of society,” said BayMark President Dr. Jason Kletter during the Planning Commission meeting.
The commission approved the specs for the methadone clinic and now it heads to city council in the fall when we’re told even more opposition is expected. However, BayMark said it’s only trying to help the drug problems in our area.