“Not Far from Me: Stories of Opioids and Ohio,” a book that confronts Ohio’s epidemic of opioid abuse through first-person accounts contributed by people around the state, and was edited by two faculty members from the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, is available by pre-order from The Ohio State University Press or from Amazon.
The book is made up of stories, essays, poems and pictures from more than 50 Ohioans from 20 counties, including recovering drug abusers, affected family members, members of the clergy, health professionals, government officials and more. Taken together, these accounts offer a portrait of life on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic in a state that’s among the hardest hit in America.
Dan Skinner, Ph.D., assistant professor of health policy at the Heritage College, Dublin, and Berkeley Franz, Ph.D., assistant professor of community-based health at the Heritage College, Athens, and holder of the Heritage Career Development Faculty Endowed Fellowship in Population Health Science, Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Ralph S. Licklider, D.O., Research Endowment, are editors of the forthcoming book, set for release in July.
On April 25, Skinner and Franz will use excerpts from the book to facilitate a discussion that examines the roles and responsibilities of medical professionals in addressing opioid abuse during a session at the Ohio Osteopathic Symposium in Columbus. That presentation will also serve as a preview of a series of community conversations to be held in a number of Ohio counties this summer, which are meant to continue and extend the grassroots story-telling process around which the book is built. The community conversations are sponsored by the Ohio Humanities Council.
“I think stories have tremendous power in their ability to humanize an issue that mostly so far has been talked about very abstractly, in that addiction affects people, and families, and communities,” Franz said. “And we don’t really understand the ways in which that happens unless we hear from people, talking about what that looks like.”
Skinner said the community conversations accompanying the book’s publication are a crucial part of the project. “One of the things that we were committed to doing all along was not just publishing a book, but also getting out into certain communities and having conversations,” he explained. “And we were really happy when the Ohio Humanities Council seemed interested and was willing to fund those community conversations, as well as a website that we’re building. As everyone hopes, whether it’s with academic research or journalism or whatever, you hope that you’ll create a longer conversation.”
The book’s accompanying website features opioid-related news, an events calendar, and informational resources. All after-tax sales proceeds from the book will be donated to three Ohio organizations that deal with opioid addiction: Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery ; Circle Health Services ; and Health Recovery Services.