CINCINNATI — A series of Zoom calls could change the way public health doctors attack drug addiction in Price Hill.
Aprina Johnson is not a public health leader, but she’s joining Hamilton County public health officials in setting the tone for a new approach to curb the addiction and overdose problems that have plagued Lower Price Hill for years.
"I'm on the call because I overdosed when I was a teenager,” Johnson said. “The weed that we were buying was laced with something, and it was just a bad batch that was going around."
Even before her overdose, Johnson was no stranger to the pain it caused.
“My grandfather overdosed in the bathtub. He was an alcoholic,” she said. “My mother overdosed in 2019. She overdosed on fentanyl.”
Johnson said people told her to give up on her mother when she was released from prison.
“I couldn't let that happen," she said. "I took her in and pretty much started to be a mom to her."
Johnson wanted a seat at the table in the fight against addiction and overdoses in Lower Price Hill, a neighborhood that sees consistently high overdose rates.
"I often times thought, after the toxicology report, that these people were just out to make money, but they're literally just killing people,” she said. "I feel like there needs to be a different method and a different system in how we catch the people, because I see them every single day.”
Seeing double-digit 911 calls for overdosed users most nights, Hamilton County Public Health asked a group called Cohear to host calls for new ideas from people in Lower Price Hill.
Dani Isaacsohn, founder of Cohear, said it takes people who have lived the experience to end the problem in Lower Price Hill.
"When we empower them to use their expertise and their voice to be at the table with decision makers we will get better policy, better decisions,” Isaacsohn said.
Music is Johnson's therapy for private family battles won and lost to addiction. She wants people in Lower Price Hill to find their own outlet, their own ways to deal with the difficulties of life that often lead to addiction.
"Maybe people go out and there's a survey done. We gauge the community and we find out what is it that you really want to be and do? Who are you? Instead of trying to throw you into the processes of all the different addiction centers,” Johnson said.
“Like, they work, but think the overall purpose and self-esteem of a person needs to be built outside all of the pain which causes them to become addicts."