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How to help loved ones struggling with addiction

Nov 11, 2019

The holidays are a time to be with friends and family and to show how much we care about them. But coming together at the end of the year may also cause concerns to come to light, including those about addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a disease that changes the brain. A person’s typical needs and desires are replaced with a new focus on seeking and using substances. It is important to remember that the signs of addiction vary.

Addiction is common in our region. The 2019 Ohio Health Issues Poll, an annual survey of Ohio adults, found that 30% of Southwestern Ohio adults had a friend or family member who experienced problems because of prescription pain reliever abuse. In addition, 22% knew someone who had problems as a result of using heroin. Ten percent knew someone who had problems because of methamphetamine use.

If you or someone you love is experiencing addiction, say something. Help is nearby and resources are available. Express your concerns for your loved one’s safety and well-being openly and honestly. Finally, listen and offer your support.

Local programs such as Safe Places Cincy help link people with treatment providers. For referrals to addiction treatment in Hamilton County, visit For information about treatment options in other counties in Southwestern Ohio, visit In Northern Kentucky, call the regional help line at 859-415-9280. In Southeastern Indiana, call the Community Mental Health Center at 812-532-3420.

Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens is the president and chief executive officer of Interact for Health and InterAct for Change. Dr. Owens is a reproductive endocrinologist. He earned an MD, an OB/GYN residency and a master’s of public health degree from Yale University School of Medicine. He also obtained a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School. In recent years, Dr. Owens has served as the Hamilton County Coroner, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College President, and Interim Health Commissioner and Medical Director of the Cincinnati Health Department.

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