Scott VanDerKarr, a retired judge who now works with Koffel Brininger Nesbitt’s Preventative Law practice, was recently interviewed to discuss Ohio’s heroin problem and what the firm is doing about it.
Kurt Ludlow of ABC6 described Koffel Brininger Nesbitt’s Preventative Law practice a “dream team” of people who are working to get young addicts help before they get arrested. Koffel Brininger Nesbitt’s Preventative Law practice takes an innovative approach for parents whose children are combatting addiction.
Heroin addiction in Ohio is “ubiquitous” as Attorney Brad Koffel describes it, and for him, it’s personal. Not only are many of Koffel’s clients addicted to heroin, but his own nephew died of an overdose after a sports injury led him to become addicted to prescription painkillers, then heroin.
“The national average is going to treatment seven times,” explained retired Judge VanDerKarr, who now works with Koffel Brininger Nesbitt’s Preventative Law practice. “But that means somebody goes 14 times and somebody goes once.”
VanDerKarr joined Koffel Brininger Nesbitt after retiring from Franklin County’s drug court, which he created seven years ago.
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“Drug court worked because you had treatment with accountability,” VanDerKarr commented. He made the switch from the drug court to Koffel Brininger Nesbitt because he wanted “to go out and fight the epidemic and try to make a bigger impact,” adding that “we’re losing close to 3,000 people a year to drug overdoses.”
Koffel Brininger Nesbitt wants its Preventative Law practice to be seen as an intervention team – a resource available to parents whose children are struggling with addiction.
“Instead of just pulling these people out of the river, we need to run upstream, figure out what’s pushing them in to begin with, and then get them out,” said Koffel.
Functioning in a family advisor capacity requires cooperation with the parents too. Koffel explained that parents need to be aware of the warning signs that could indicate drug abuse, and be willing to confront them when they notice something. Denial, VanDerKarr says, is something they see from parents a lot. A sort of “not my kid” mentality that does nothing but aggravate the situation.
Breaking the cycle of drug addiction is possible if we stop waiting for young adults to get arrested before we get them help. This help is affordable, and coming to the kitchen tables of families throughout Ohio whose loved ones are battling addiction.