August 5, 2019

New ad campaign aims to address stigma toward addiction

Batavia, OH (Aug. 5, 2019) – Clermont County residents have started seeing billboards and hearing radio spots as part of a new campaign aimed at reducing the stigma toward addiction. Soon, they’ll also view Facebook ads.

They carry messages such as “Recovery is Possible,” “We are Stronger than Addiction,” and “Community is How Recovery Thrives.” They direct people to  and use the #IBelieveInRecovery hashtag.

The Clermont County Opiate Task Force helped start the campaign, funded by the Funders’ Response to the Heroin Epidemic through Interact for Health. Hyperquake, a Cincinnati design agency, created the promotion, also running in Dearborn and Butler counties.

“We’re thankful for this opportunity to drive home the message that recovery is possible,” said Lee Ann Watson, associate director of the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board and a co-chair of the Clermont County Opiate Task Force. “We want people to understand that addiction is a chronic disease that feeds on isolation. When we stand together, it cannot overtake us.”

Fifteen billboards began to display the campaign’s messages last month. Ads also are airing on WGRR radio. Facebook ads will start soon.

Research has shown that a stigma still exists toward addiction – and that a campaign could help build awareness as part of the work to address the area’s opiate crisis.


October 16, 2018

Clermont County Opiate Task Force votes to oppose Issue 1

BATAVIA, Ohio – The Clermont County Opiate Task Force voted to oppose Issue 1 at its meeting on Oct. 11.

The task force is comprised of stakeholders representing county government, agencies and the courts (Commissioners, Clermont County Public Health, Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MHRB), Municipal Court Probation, Common Pleas Court Probation, Public Defender, Children’s Protective Services, County Sheriff); Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services; Clermont Mercy Hospital; law enforcement and fire/EMS departments; faith-based organizations and private citizens.

The Opiate Task Force’s statement declared: “The Clermont County Opiate Task Force (OTF) firmly believes that individuals with a substance use disorder benefit from treatment, and that recovery is possible. The OTF opposes this constitutional amendment because it does not address the problem as intended. Issue 1 polarizes the relationship between treatment and criminal justice, when in fact criminal justice and treatment work hand in hand to assist individuals with reaching recovery. Issue 1 will hinder the ability of the criminal justice system to work to assure that individuals who need treatment will receive it and maintain it. Along with the Clermont County Commissioners, our criminal justice partners, including the Clermont County Police Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association, and the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, the OTF implores the Ohio General Assembly to immediately bring together a bipartisan coalition of concerned Ohioans to take action to address the issue of increased treatment services for offenders through a legislative solution, not a constitutional amendment. The OTF strongly encourages all community members to become well informed about Issue 1.”

At the meeting, a panel including Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride, Assistant Prosecutor Darren Miller, Sheriff Steve Leahy, Commissioners Ed Humphrey and David Painter, and Karen Scherra, Executive Director of MHRB, spoke out against Issue 1 and detailed the impact it would have on the county courts, law enforcement and the County Jail, and taxpayers.

Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride noted that both Municipal and Common Pleas Court judges work with lesser offenders to get them into treatment instead of jail or prison. “The reality is that less and less F4s and F5s (felony offenders) go to prison every day,” he said. “For years now, the emphasis in drug possession has been on treatment.”

Karen Scherra of the Mental Health & Recovery Board said that although her board is in favor of legislative reforms, it opposes Issue 1. “We do not see treatment increasing under Issue 1,” she said. “It’s often the stick of criminal justice that gets people into treatment.” She noted that her board has worked closely with county partners in criminal justice as well as the Commissioners to come up with initiatives in the battle against the opioid problems in the county. “If this passes we will watch a system that we worked really hard to build up collapse,” she said.

On Oct.3, the Clermont County Commissioners passed a resolution opposing Issue 1.

(This article was revised on Oct. 30, 2018.)


March 30, 2018

A Week of Appreciation for those on the front lines of the opiate epidemic

BATAVIA, Ohio (March 30, 2018) – With a message of Bringing Help. Bringing Hope. Thank you., the Clermont County Opiate Task Force is joining in the State of Ohio’s Week of Appreciation from April 9-13 with outreach to organizations and individuals that have been on the front lines of the opiate epidemic battle in Clermont County.

Beginning with a proclamation from the Clermont County Commissioners on April 9, members of the task force will fan out during the week with certificates, cookies and personal thank you notes to police departments, fire/EMS departments, Mercy Health Clermont, boards, agencies, government offices, recovery support groups and others that have joined forces for years to stem the opioid tide.

“This is a week of thanks and a week of celebration,” said Karen Scherra, Executive Director of the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MHRB). The board, which has co-chaired the Opiate Task Force since its inception in 2013, has been the lead partner in the collaborative effort to slow down and ultimately reverse the epidemic. Through its taxpayer-supported levy, the MHRB has directed funds to various initiatives to help those impacted by addiction.

Many more treatment options and services are available in Clermont County now compared to 2013, Scherra noted. “We are proud of the fact that the Opiate Task Force came together early on when we recognized what was happening, and began a collaborative process that continues to pay off.”

But this week, she noted, is really about those who aren’t always thanked as they make a difference in the lives of those who have substance use disorders.

“We see every day the difficulty and pain so many of our front-line fighters face as they work to help individuals in need. The positive impact that recovery from addiction can have on individuals, families, job growth, community safety, and overall economic development cannot be overstated,” Scherra said.

“Treatment works and people recover,” she stressed.

“Saving individuals and helping to open the door to recovery for those living in Clermont County who need treatment services and supports is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.  Our community will be stronger for it.”

As part of the Week of Appreciation, the Opiate Task Force is inviting the public to attend its monthly meeting from 2-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12. It will be held at the Batavia Township Community Center, 1535 Clough Pike.

“We’re holding our meeting this month at a larger location. We invite the public to celebrate this week with us, by stopping by to learn more about our initiatives and successes,” Scherra said.

Some of the 2017 accomplishments include:

  • A sober recovery home for men in Clermont County
  • A new women’s wing at the Community Alternative Sentencing Center
  • New Quick Response Teams that provide outreach to those who have overdosed
  • Additional peer recovery coaches
  • Greater access to medication-assisted treatment
  • More police/fire/EMS departments carrying Narcan

To learn more about the Clermont County Opiate Task Force, go to  and follow Opiate Task Force’s Facebook page