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Lawmakers, families and law enforcement talk opioid epidemic solutions at FOX 45 town hall

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DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT)-- Fox 45 hosted a "Your Voice, Your Future" town hall on the opiate epidemic at the Fox 45 studios in Miamisburg, bringing together experts in the field and those who've been hit hardest by the epidemic.

The panelists; Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, founder of Families of Addicts Lori Erion and Richard Confer of "Recovery Works."

The panelists fielded questions from audience experts.

One of the first topics was medically assisted treatment for opiate addicts.

"It's very frustrating and very sad when people call and want treatment and I can only see so many at one time," said Dr. David Novak from the audience.

"We have to recognize this as a brain disease and it needs to be treated as such," said Lt. Governor Taylor.

"I think we know what the gateway drug was here," Mayor Whaley said referring to the lawsuit she filed against major prescription drug companies, "I think that's the real point is when people are getting addicted to that, that leaves and we see a heroin crisis, it’s pretty obvious what happened in these communities."

Law enforcement relayed how bad the opiate epidemic has become in the Miami Valley.

"Talking with these national publications, they say we can't believe how well you're managing this but-- we need help," said Sheriff Plummer, "That's all I've got to tell them, we need help, send help."

On the recovery side of the discussion, mom Lori runs a recovery group, and her daughter April is in recovery.

"You have to keep putting the tools in front of them," Erion said about making recovery work.

"What do you say to someone who's watching at home perhaps your age- saying April, I can control it?" said the event moderator.

"I think everyone who wound up in the morgue last month thought that too," April Erion said.

Health agencies brought up the need for funding for treatment centers during the town hall.

"One of the ideas that we're trying to get off the ground now literally a bricks and mortar investment," said Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, "Is a place where people can present themselves in an addicted state and it's not Sheriff Plummer's jail and it's not a hospital bed."

The overall message from the event, that the Miami Valley wants to stop the epidemic, and heal.

"It doesn't have to define who you're always going to be," April Erion said about her recovery.

"At the end of the day if we're making progress and moving forward that has to be good enough," said Lori Erion.

To watch the entire town hall, search "Fox 45 Dayton" on Facebook.

The town hall will also be re-broadcast Saturday at noon on Fox 45.

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