Hundreds attend Rep. Latta's forum on opiate abuse in Findlay

    A large crowd gathered at the University of Findlay for a forum on opiate abuse, hosted by Rep. Bob Latta. (Jim Nelson/WNWO).

    Hundreds of Northwest Ohioans came together in Findlay on Monday to share their concerns about heroin and other opiates.

    "It's something that is affecting families and it's affecting individuals," said Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio. "I've got businesses out there saying, 'boy, we can't get people that can pass drugs tests now.' "

    Latta brought the panel of experts together for a forum.

    In the audience, Stephanie Jones and Kim Pellegrini sit front and center.

    Jones is five years sober.

    "I was an abuser. I was a thief. I was heartless and soulless," she recalls. "I didn't care about anything other than getting a fix."

    Pellegrini has a son currently in treatment.

    "He needed help and I didn't know where to go," she said. "I didn't know what to do."

    Together, they are hoping for a solution.

    "(Users) think they can do it just for a weekend -- just for fun," Pellegrini says. "It gets you like that. The addiction is so strong. It's the devil... And it's going to be a monkey on their back forever."

    Many on the panel acknowledge that there are no easy answers. Attorney General Mike DeWine says it is an issue that needed to be attacked from all angles.

    "The communities that have really started to make progress are the communities that got so fed up seeing their kids die -- and seeing other people die," he said. "They kind of rise up in a grassroots effort and say, 'we're going to do whatever we can to stop this.' "

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