Though Bexley is not one of the top Franklin County communities affected by opiate-related overdose deaths, residents should be informed about how to prevent such deaths, city and county officials say.

About 30 residents gathered Oct. 24 at the Bexley Public Library for a town hall meeting presented by Franklin County Public Health, the Franklin County Coroner's Office, the city of Columbus, Columbus Public Health, Maryhaven, and Mount Carmel Health.

During the town hall, representatives from these and other health organizations discussed the causes of addiction, such as a genetic disposition and poverty; the signs of addiction, such as erratic behavior and frequent absenteeism from school and work; and treatments, including medicines such as methadone, 12-step programs and ongoing counseling.

"The opiate crisis doesn't know any boundaries, and it hits every community," Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler said. "We've lost people that we love in our community to addiction. Having continual education forums are important to keep that issue alive in our minds and to highlight that substance abuse runs the gamut from casual alcohol use to opiate addiction."

The town hall also included training on how to administer naloxone, which can reverse an opiate overdose. Participants had the option of going home with free naloxone kits.

"The fact that we're having a training and distributing naloxone is really helpful," Kessler said.

During the town hall, Dr. Emily Kaufman, a physician with the Ohio State University Medical Center, presented data from the Franklin County Coroner's Office indicating there were 317 opiate-related deaths in Franklin County from January to September 2017. The top five ZIP codes where opiate-related deaths occurred last year were 43206, 43207, 43211, 43223 and 43232, according to the coroner's office.

While Bexley's 43209 ZIP code is not on that list, opiate addiction affects every community in central Ohio, Kaufman said.

"It's pervasive," she said. "There's not a 'troublemaker' ZIP code in the city."

Kaufman said those who suffer from opiate addiction or those who know someone who does can visit the following sites to receive help: www.adamhfranklin.org, www.netcareaccess.org, www.equitashealth.com, www.columbus.gov/harm and www.maryhaven.com.

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