Sen. Rob Portman was in Clermont County Wednesday to meet with QRTs, the Quick Response Teams that help people get into recovery who struggle with addiction. They said it all usually starts with a knock on the door.
Crystal Brittain is a recovering drug user who was hospitalized for a drug overdose in 2017.
"It was like, 'Hi, we're with the Quick Response Team,' you know,” Brittain said. "I woke up remembering being in the back of an ambulance saying, 'I'm refusing treatment,' you know, 'I refuse treatment.'"
It was in that ambulance that she realized she needed help.
"It was like an epiphany, like, 'I'm done,'” she said. “What happens if I don't wake up? You know, after I am hit with Narcan again. You know, 'cause I lost my ex-husband due to an overdose."
She said it was a QRT's knock on the door that connected her to peer recovery workers through the Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services.
QRT members, along with representatives from the Clermont County Sheriff's Office, met with Sen. Rob Portman to discuss the status of the program.
"A user arrest, not a seller arrest, and then you go in with a team and talk to the people, try to get them into a program,” Portman said.
Clermont County started using the teams in 2015. The teams said they were making progress with some proactive approaches through 2019, but overdoses spiked by 17% during the pandemic in 2020.
"Two things happened: one, people had a lot more pressure and for a lot of reasons started to use more, and then second, they weren't interacting with their recovery coaches," Portman said.
Portman said the nation and Ohio saw the worst overdose deaths ever last year. He introduced the comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 3.0 for programs being used in Clermont County and across the Tri-State.
"It's the third iteration of our original bill, and it's focused on what works like this," Portman said
WCPO rode along with Portman and the QRT team, where he met with Brittain. She shared how the QRT team helped her turn her life around.
"I get up, I read my daily reflection,” she said. “I don't have to put dope in my body anymore. You know, I thank God. God, thank you for waking me up.”