CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A new drug abuse prevention initiative kicked off in Ohio on Wednesday, working to reduce the likelihood of youth drug use before it even starts.
The "Start Talking!" initiative is inspired by research that shows youth are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs when parents and adults talk with them about substance use and abuse.
Governor Kasich kicked off the new initiative at West Carrollton Middle School and Finneytown Local School District Secondary School. Kasich was joined by a handfull of other well known Ohions, including Cincinnati Bengal Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz.
"We're making real progress in fighting prescription drug abuse in Ohio, because we made up our minds to fight the problem head on," said Gov. Kasich in a press release. "But we still have more work to do because illicit drug abuse remains a huge problem in our state. Our law enforcement agencies are fighting to curb abuse on the supply end, and each of us as parents can do our part by talking to our children. Start Talking pulls together many proven strategies, giving us some very potent tools that let us come at the problem from all sides. It's a tough problem that calls for an even tougher fight. But it's a fight we must win, because our future – our children – are at stake."
Drug abuse is a public health epidemic across the nation, and Ohio is not immune.
In 2011, drug overdoses were the leading cause of accidental deaths in the state, with one Ohioan dying from a drug overdose every five hours.
To date, a number of schools have pledged their support and committed to promoting the new Start Talking program. The initiative brings together four programs designed to interact with parents, other adults and youth in different ways:
- Know! is a drug prevention and awareness partnership developed by The Drug-Free Action Alliance that targets parents and caregivers of middle school students and empowers them to raise their children substance-free. Its goal is to increase communication between parents and their children about substance abuse. This is achieved through free, twice-monthly emails that offer parent tips to families to help them talk about this subject.
- Parents360 Rx is a component of a national community education program developed by the Partnership at Drugfree.org that has demonstrated significantly increased knowledge of substance abuse among adults, thereby enhancing confidence in their ability to speak with teens about the subject. Ohio is disseminating Parents360 Rx Action Toolkits to assist parents and school leaders in hosting discussions locally to support prevention efforts in their communities.
- 5 Minutes for Life is led by the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Ohio National Guard, in partnership with high schools and the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA). Patrol and National Guard members talk to student athletes and encourage them to become ambassadors who lead peer-to-peer conversations that promote healthy lifestyles. The statewide partnership involves all 58 Patrol Posts, more than 800 OHSAA-member high schools and Ohio National Guard Service members from around the state.
- Building Youth Resiliency and encouraging good behavioral health among young people are both essential to enhancing their ability to resist substance abuse and addiction. The Office of Ohio First Lady Karen W. Kasich, in partnership with other state agencies, is seeking applications to assist local communities in utilizing evidence-based programs to help youth resist substance use. This initiative will give communities and schools the tools to develop student's resiliency so they have the courage to push back against peer pressure.