Athens County Prosecuting Attorney Keller J. Blackburn was with the Ohio delegation last week in Philadelphia, where he made a pitch about his efforts to curb drug addiction, especially the growing problem of opiods.
Blackburn, whose name pops up as a possible candidate for Ohio attorney general in two years along with former U.S. Attorney for northern Ohio, Steve Dettelbach, spoke at the delegation’s breakfast meetings last Tuesday about his efforts to curb addictive drug use in Athens County. Blackburn says addiction is a disease, and called for more education to educate kids about drugs and their uses.
He talked about his plan to use Vivitrol to help individuals in the southeastern Appalachian county, home to Ohio University. Vivitrol is a prescription injectable that blocks opioid receptors in the brain and takes away pleasurable feelings associated with heroin or opiate use.
Blackburn’s program is working well in treating local individuals suffering from heroin and opiate addiction, according to reports. Started in September 2015 with 131 individuals, the program has since signed up scores of people. The initial goal was to treat 40 individuals within the first year of the program, but Blackburn says with some pride that that goal has been exceeded.
“We’ve had tremendous support from the community including police departments in Athens, OU and Nelsonville, the Athens County Sheriff’s Department and the 317 Board because people down here in Athens County understand that this is a community and regional problem and we have to come together to fight back,” Mr. Blackburn said.
Over the last three years, his office has put together over $340,000 to help alleviate the local heroin epidemic, and they continue to seek more funding for drug treatment and prevention.
“These are people who are desperate for help. They’ve hit rock bottom and their families are devastated. We believe every dollar spent is going to save lives, prevent deaths and help individuals who are addicted and families in the community,” he said on his office website.
Keller was coy about saying outright if he has aspirations for higher office, but he didn’t shoot that idea down.