UHRICHSVILLE – COVID-19 is causing more than death and disease from its own infections. According to Judge Brad L. Hillyer of the Southern District of Tuscarawas County Court, it also leads to more poor substance abuse outcomes.
“COVID-19 continued to have a tremendous impact on drug addiction and drug deaths in Tuscarawas County,” Hillyer wrote in the court’s 2021 annual report.
Continued: Pandemic drops 45.4% cases in South Court in 2020
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Continued: Judge: My ordeal with COVID-19
According to Seana Fortune, director of recovery services for OhioGuidestone in New Philadelphia, the pandemic could negatively affect people recovering from substance abuse disorders in several ways.
Lockdowns and isolation intended to slow human-to-human transmission of the virus can have negative effects, she said.
How is the pandemic making recovery from addiction more difficult?
“If you could imagine someone who maybe has another disease, like diabetes, heart problems or cancer, and they haven’t been able to follow their treatment or see their healthcare provider, you would automatically assume that it’s going to get worse because they can’t access their meds or their treatment,” Fortune said. “It’s no different with people who are recovering, trying to recover from drugs and the alcohol. It still hit them.”
COVID may have prevented recovering drug users from accessing counselling, case management and peer support, she said.
“Often people struggling with addiction or in recovery, especially in early recovery, also struggle with mental health issues,” Fortune said.
Isolation can exacerbate their symptoms, which can include depression and anxiety, which could be amplified by uncertainty about the virus, she said.
“They avoid all the positive things in their lives to avoid potentially getting sick,” she said.
They may not be able to reunite with family members and friends who can be a comfort on bad days, according to Fortune, who previously worked as a back-to-school coordinator at the sheriff’s office.
In his 2020 court operations report, Hillyer also wrote that COVID-19 is having a “significant impact on drug addiction and drug deaths in Tuscarawas County.” Due to the pandemic-related restrictions put in place at the county jail, “many drug-using people were able to avoid detection, and subsequently we had many drug-related deaths in (the) area. of Tuscarawas County,” he wrote in the released report. in 2021.
Hillyer wrote in his 2021 report that drug treatment remains a problem for the Tuscarawas County court systems, which lacks a dedicated treatment center for men.
“Methamphetamine remains a significant problem in the county and appears to be linked to fentanyl and other drugs that cause deaths. Methamphetamine currently has no effective treatment at this time,” Hillyer wrote. “I hope we put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror in the months ahead and continue our mission to help our citizens struggling with drug issues.”
South Court, in numbers
His report included these statistics and commentary on court activities:
• The court saw a slight increase in the filing of new cases in 2021. The total number of cases filed for the year was 2,403. This included 535 criminal cases, 1,868 traffic cases and 434 civil cases. This represents an increase of 84 cases from 2020 filings.
• Seventy-six new cases of driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs were filed in court in 2021, which represents an increase of three cases compared to 2021.
• The court noted an increase in the number of not guilty pleas entered to OVI charges, with 63 out of 76 not guilty pleas entered. This represents 82.9% of these cases, which is higher than in 2020.
• In comparison, only 70.1% of those who received criminal citations pleaded not guilty in 2021, also an increase from the previous year.
• The deadlines set by the Supreme Court of Ohio for the effective resolution of cases were largely met, as 32 cases, or 8.7%, remained unsolved beyond the recommended guideline at the end of the year. ‘year. That’s more than most years, but attendance was an issue and the court tried not to issue warrants where possible. This led to some cases taking longer to resolve than normal.
• The court collected $142,572 in online payments in 2021, an increase from the 2020 total.
• Total court revenue increased in 2021, totaling $610,703. It’s not as high as pre-pandemic levels.
• The court disbursed $118,723 to the state in 2021, an increase from 2020.
• The total amount paid to Tuscarawas County in 2021 was $278,797, an increase from 2020.
• The court collected and disbursed civil judgments amounting to $176,484 in 2021.
• The court collected and paid restitution payments arising from criminal cases in the amount of $6,080 in 2021.
• Probationers in the Court’s Community Service Program completed 5,960 hours of community service in 2021. This program benefits the community and provides probationers with an alternative to prison and the opportunity to participate in positive activity. They pick up trash, shovel snow, mow grass, comb and rake leaves in the area, help local schools and other community organizations.
• Community service projects completed in the past year include upgrades to the installation and cleaning of the Polar Express, cleaning and maintenance work at the village of Schoenbrunn, providing important hours to the Soup popular Harcatus, maintenance of local baseball and softball fields and garbage collection in Dennison, Uhrichsville, Gnadenhutten, Port Washington and Newcomerstown.
Hillyer’s report also noted the retirement of Melissa Dillehay from the position of court clerk after 31 years of service in the county court system.
“The Court thanks Missi for her service and she will be missed,” Hillyer wrote. “Missi is enjoying her retirement and looking forward to spending more time with her dogs and her grandson.”
She was replaced by Rebecca Vermillion.
This article originally appeared on The Times-Reporter: County court judge blames COVID for exacerbating drug problems