Recovery center eyes Columbiana site

COLUMBIANA — An opiate recovery center is asking the city’s permission to open an office on state Route 14, but city officials have a few concerns they want addressed before making any decisions.

Jeremy Carpenter of Groups Recover Together presented the plan for the non-intensive outpatient office to the planning commission this week.

He said the center will treat those dealing with opiate addictions, and plans call for a 1,500-square-foot office that would look similar to a primary care doctor’s office.

The 18- to 24-month treatment would consist of suboxone prescriptions and required group and individual counseling sessions, he said.

“We are putting our patients on suboxone to come off the street,” he said, adding that the prescriptions would be given in small doses. “They won’t get their prescription if they don’t attend counseling sessions.”

Carpenter said there are already eight facilities in Ohio and that each facility collaborates with local hospitals and doctors.

“This mission is personal to me,” he said, explaining that while growing up in a community outside of Akron he saw the effect that opiates had on people, and wanted to do something to help.

“What I saw was the ability to reach the rural communities I grew up in,” he said.

He noted that Columbiana County’s average prescription opiate doses per capita is at 70 — which is just above the state average.

In August, state officials said that an average of 11 people died of drug overdoses in Ohio each day in 2016.

A record of over 4,000 people died of drug overdoses that same year, according to the same report, which linked the new synthetic drug fentanyl to the 33 percent increase from 2015 statistics.

Planning Commission members said they would like to hear from police Chief Tim Gladis before approving a facility, to see if he had any concerns from a safety standpoint.

They also felt they needed more time to consider the request, since the information was not presented to them until shortly before the meeting.

Mayor and Planning commission member Bryan Blakeman said the commission generally sees application requests a week in advance.

Carpenter said he understood, and also said that if there was another location in the city for the facility that would make them feel more comfortable he would be willing to consider that.

Right now the facility is planned for 258 state Route 14.

“We are going to try to work through this very sad but very real situation. We don’t discount that this is not real,” commission member Rick Noel said of the opioid crisis.

The commission approved tabling the request until hearing from Gladis.