Northwood community comes together to tackle opioids

Drug Enforcement Administration / MGN

NORTHWOOD, Oh (WTVG) - The opioid epidemic is affecting families and communities all across the country. Closer to home, recovery agencies and grieving families are vowing to never give up the fight to save lives.

"Recovery is possible," Nate Kehlmeier said.

He is living proof. He's been sober for nearly 10 years and now he dedicates his life to helping other people stay clean. He recognizes that it's a tall order but says it's a challenge he's happy to take on.

"The opiates right now, they're taking over. They're a lot worse than people may think," he said.

As the director of admissions at the area's newest treatment center, the Midwest Recovery Center, he sees the toll that heroin and other opioids are taking. That's why he jumps at the opportunity to educate the public about this epidemic.

"The community needs to know, I know that there will be empty seats tonight, but I think when it comes to something like this, the seats should be full," he said of the forum. "The community needs to be educated."

Northwood hosted the most recent community meeting on Thursday, focusing on awareness and resources.

"It hits home to almost everyone, whether you think so or not," Yvonne Thoma Patton, executive director of the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce, said.

A panel was on hand to answer questions and emergency room nurses painted a vivid picture of overdoses in the ER; the successes and tragedies.

The scenario was very real for some. The Clemons family lost their son and brother in 2015 to an overdose. Brandon had just left rehab and relapsed.

"We were kind of blindsided with Brandon," Laurie Clemons, his mother said.

The grieving parents are tireless in their efforts to squash the stigma.

"These people who are addicts, they are people. They are a life. They deserve to live," John Clemons, Brandon's father said.

They hope to make an impact on other families fighting the same fight.

"If we could save one family from having this type of heartache, I would be very, very happy," Laurie said.