Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress

Healthy Communities Council Commits To Tackling Opiate Epidemic

February 15, 2017 By ASAP-BC

The Healthy Communities Council of Bartholomew County decided on Thursday morning to accelerate community efforts to stem the opiate epidemic and mitigate community problems that have resulted from the recent dramatic increase. “We are like most communities across the country that also are suffering from this scourge,” said Jim Lienhoop, Mayor of Columbus and Healthy Communities Council member. “We are different, though, in that we have decided not to wait any longer to get serious about tackling this problem.”

A new leadership structure within the Healthy Communities Council will provide support, structure and resources to bring focus and accountability and to enhance and accelerate  current substance abuse efforts.

A leadership triad of consisting of Mayor Jim Lienhoop, County Commissioner Carl Lienhoop, and Jim Bickel, Columbus Regional Hospital President and CEO, will oversee three committees that will focus on different aspects of the opiate epidemic: Education/Prevention, Law Enforcement/Judiciary, and Treatment. Recognizing that the substance abuse issue involves both the availability of drugs as well as the demand for them, Julie Abedian, Vice-President of Community Partnerships and Corporate Responsibility for Columbus Regional Health, shared how these three committees will be able to address both the supply and demand side of the issue.

Next steps will include appointing leaders to work with the leadership triad and the committees, establishing community goals, building community awareness and engagement, identifying priorities, needed resources and responsibilities, and ensuring community accountability.

A community forum, open to the public and scheduled for April 19th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Commons, will serve as the kick-off event for this work. Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, will speak along with Dr. Kendall Stewart, a psychiatrist and chief medical officer of the Portsmouth, Ohio hospital. The event is free and no registration is required. Copies of the book are available locally in the Bartholomew County Library and at Viewpoint Books.


The Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County is an initiative dedicated to coordinating a community-wide response to the county’s growing opioid crisis. ASAP was created in April 2017 with a two-year timeframe to assess the problem, propose solutions and implement projects throughout the county to build community capacity to prevent and treat substance use disorder.


Contact: Beth Morris, Director of Community Health Partnerships