Clinton County and the City of Frankfort had a very special guest in town Friday as Director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy (ONDCP) visited One80 Recovery Resource Center in Frankfort.
The reason for his visit was to learn about our recovery community — with a special interest on how employers in Clinton County are working with people in recovery.
“What I’m going to take away from here today is this work that is happening everybody hand and glove working with each other, knowing each other, the families and others, making sure more people aren’t being harmed.” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the ONDCP. “What I heard today from the police chief is that this approach is working.”
Dr. Gupta was among many dignitaries, city and county officials, along with those who have been directly involved in the effort throughout the county. Among those present were Doug Huntsinger, who serves as Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement and Chairman of the Indiana Commission to Combat Substance Use Disorder, and former U.S. Surgeon General and now health equity leader at Purdue University Dr. Jerome Adams.
They were joined by Frankfort Mayor Judy Sheets, Clinton County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shan Sheridan, Clinton County Commissioners President Jordan Brewer, and Frankfort Chief of Police Scott Shoemaker. All individuals also heard from Shawn Allen, Rusty Neidlinger and Levi Madras, all of whom are recovering addicts now living highly productive lives.
“What I see here in the City of Frankfort is how a community comes together to solve its problem,” said Dr. Gupta. “The leadership from the Mayor to the County Commission to others are figuring out best to use these settlement dollars. But in essence if you look at all of this it comes to one thing — community and relationships within that community and each other working together to solve this problem.”
Shoemaker gave some interesting statistics like overdose response is down 50 percent for the same time period last year. That’s really impressive when the nation’s numbers have headed upward. Shoemaker added they had four overdose deaths in the same time period a year ago. They’ve had one so far this year.
Shoemaker credits the success to his officers and Healthy Communities of Clinton County Coalition.
“I can give every police department in America a group like Healthy Communities, it would be totally easy,” said Shoemaker. “There’s no stress.”
Mayor Sheets said the success can be related to what she said at the groundbreaking for 180.
“People are going to see lives change, we’re going to see relationships restored and that’s I want to see,” said Sheets. “I want our community to embrace the addiction recovery community.
“I love the addiction recovery community,” continued Sheets. “So many people are doing great things. We’ve got churches involved, we have organizations involved, we have elected officials, our appointed officials involved and that’s what we want. We want to help our recovery community. I want our community to accept them and to let them know how important they are.”
Sheridan said this has helped change the dynamics of the community.
“I just appreciate the connectivity,” said Sheridan. “We have industry and you have to have business. But without our local leadership that mentioned earlier with Jordan and the Mayor, we wouldn’t have the continuity that we have.”
Dr. Gupta pointed out the reality of this program.
“The work that happens with these types of organizations is so critical it is the difference between life and death,” said Dr. Gupta.