HANCOCK COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - Hancock County is working to have a unified front when it comes to dealing with mental health and drug abuse in the community.
The heroin epidemic that has ravaged the state of Ohio has impacted Hancock County as much as any other, which has led to the court system here adapting in the ways they deal with opiate addiction.
During Thursdays forum on mental health and drug addiction, Judge Reginald Routson of Hancock County Common Pleas Court said 80 percent of crimes he sees in his courtroom are now drug related.
In the past, those charged were unilaterally thrown in jail, but now many are offered treatment as an incentive to stay out of a jail cell.
"Now, the trend has changed and people have come to realize that you can work with addicted people and you can get them sober, if there isn't the demand the supply issue will take care of itself." said Routson.
Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman says every day there are 10 residents in the county jail actively going through rehab. And through partnerships with multiple local organizations, those who are released from jail are offered a multitude of programs through the county to reach sobriety.
"When they walk out of the door, we need somebody there to catch them." said Heldman. "Because if nobody is there to help them on their way to stay sober and stay clean, they're going to go back to their old neighborhoods, they're going to go back to their old habits, get back into old trouble and get back into our facility again."
But with all of the help the county is offering, Heldman says it is ultimately up to the users to realize they need to get clean.
"But, the person that is taking the heroin has to have the mindset that he or she wants help. Until they get to that point, it is very hard to convince them."