Week of free walk-in clinics in Columbus connecting addicts to lifesaving help


Free, lifesaving help is available throughout Columbus in a first-of-its kind effort in the fight against addiction.

Five-hundred twenty-two people died of drug overdoses last year in Franklin County alone.

So this week in Columbus, addiction treatment professionals are taking a new approach, fanning out across the city to take the services to the streets.

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After decades of the slow death of addiction, Brian Hall will never forget the day he got clean: "April the 26th, 2001."

He'd lost his family, his home, and his dignity. But not his will to live.

"I surrendered. I stopped rationalizing, intellectualizing, justifying. I took responsibility for my behavior and I said 'I did this. i want help.'"

Today Hill is one of dozens of volunteers and professionals taking part in "Walk in for Recovery."

"We've never done anything like this for addiction in Franklin County," said Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts. "This will be the first for Franklin County, and as far as I know, it's the first for the state."

At seven locations around the city all this week, people can walk in to get free lifesaving help.

Everything from Narcan, fentanyl testing strips to Hepatitis A vaccinations.

"And then if they want to talk to someone about treatment, whether it's medical-assisted treatment, or inpatient treatment, there's counselors that will be available to assess and determine what would be best for them," said Roberts. "They could go today. We will transport them today."

Those behind this idea say it was born based on feedback and fears of people who need these services most.

"'I'm scared to go into that agency, or I'm scared to go into that courthouse. You're going to take my kids. You're gonna lock me up. Or you know what? I don't have insurance,'" recounts Andrea Boxill, of Columbus Public Health. "So we had to put the services in places where people felt safe."

City leaders say the level of this crisis required a new approach.

"To see the number of children who are without parents because of addiction, is very troubling," said Roberts.

"And these aren't just addicts and criminals. These are our neighbors. These are moms and dads and grandparents and kids," said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

They say if you're ready for help, they're ready for you.

"Because it's either live or die," said Hall. "Do you want to live? There's help available."

The Recovery Walk-Ins will take place from noon-9 p.m., April 29-May 3, at the following locations:

  • St. Stephens Community House, 1500 E. 17th Ave.
  • Central Community House, 1150 E. Main St.
  • OSU African American and African Studies Community Extension Center, 905 Mt. Vernon Ave. *(noon-5 p.m. only),
  • John Maloney Healthcare Center, 1905 Parsons Ave.
  • Columbus Neighborhood Health Center-Great Southern, 3781 S. High St.
  • Jordan’s Crossing, 342 N. Hague Ave.
  • APDS, 1409 Livingston Ave.

Services are available on a drop-in basis and no appointment is needed.

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