GREENVILLE — Concerned citizens attended the Opioid Warrior’s Awareness event on Sunday that hosted featured speaker Billy Pfaff, of Boston, Massachusetts, known online as the “Opioid Warrior.”
Pfaff said he started his Facebook Page “Opioid Warrior” for all those willing to help the suffering addicts and also to break the stigma and fight for change. In the last four years on his volunteer mission, he has hit the streets and has personally placed and directed about 2,500 people who are suffering addiction, he said.
Pfaff visited Greenville the first time Saturday, Feb. 25, when he spoke to about 30 Greenville residents. At that event, Pfaff said he thought Greenville was broken because the resources available for treatment of addiction were inadequate. He made some suggestions for Darke County to better reach the addicted community, such as: establishing a drug court, removing the hate stigma by allowing people to seek help without going to jail, having an in-patient program with adequate dosing and therapy and advertise resources on Public-access television.
“Everyone is under so much pressure and I think everyone is afraid to make a move, Pfaff said. “A lot of communities have good success. It is right in front of them and they don’t even realize it.”
Some of the people who invited Pfaff to Greenville were Jackie Wittler and Lynette Trent. They are both mothers of children who are addicts. They and some other parents of addicted children feel the resources available in Darke County are inadequate in serving their children’s needs. They have pretty much exhausted going through all of the programs and have been unsuccessful, Wittler said. Wittler has started carrying a notebook tracking her research on local drug addiction treatment options.
“We have been getting calls to help people and I want to know what to do,” she said. “What can we do to make it a little better for those going through this? I am afraid if something isn’t done, our children are going to be dead.”
With this feeling of urgency, Wittler reached out to Pfaff. She had heard about him through Facebook.
“Billy is loud, he’s rude, he’s crude and he makes people think and that is why I thought it was a really good idea.” she said. “Since we have started, we hear from the addicts too and we have helped a few. That is why we decided to have the second rally so we can get everyone together and educate them. People hate me around here now, because I have invited Billy. Everyone says I am saying no treatment is available. I am not saying that, I am saying the correct treatment is unavailable.”
At Sunday’s event, in addition to Pfaff, other speakers included mother’s of addicted children, mothers of children who have overdosed, people in recovery, counselors and concerned citizens. There were also resource tables from Families of Addicts, Hope in Recovery and others. Everyone received a free t-shirt. Pfaff said education is the key to helping end the drug addiction problem.
“The biggest thing I am telling everyone today is we need to educate everybody to understand addiction as a whole,” Pfaff said. “It is bad out there – people need help – help someone find a ride, everyone needs to chip in a little bit. We need to work together. On a local level, we are not getting much help. We need to go to the state and federal levels for funding.”
“Everyone keeps saying there is help,” he added. “What is help? Do you guys have more than seven days detox in the community? How are people getting treatment with no detox in this area and you have to wait for beds? Is there any way we can get the community together to write a petition, and get some signatures from all the locals to challenge the city hall, to get emergency funding to have detox beds put here? That should have been done years ago.”
For more information on Billy Pfaff’s mission, visit https://www.facebook.com/OPIOIDWARRIOR
EDS NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series titled “Fatal Addiction” that will address the drug problem and effects on residents and resources in Darke County.