States across the United States have been responding to the growing opiate crisis, with Ohio ramping up their strategy. Last Thursday the Ohio state governor and the top law enforcer asked that educators across the state chip in to battle the opiate addiction epidemic. This plea went out during a conference call that was placed by Attorney General Mike DeWine and Governor John Kasich. The recipients included the leaders of education, from school superintendents to principals and counselors.
Kasich not only asked the leaders of the education community to chip in, but to spread the message to others in schools. He asked that they speak on the value of providing comprehensive drug education and delivering regular warnings regarding the negative effects that come from drug use. He stated that it was clearly in the educator’s power to help the message be heard and make a positive impact, citing statistics that show that students who hear negative messages about drug use have a fifty percent less chance of using and abusing drugs in the future.
He stated that the progress that Ohio has already made is not enough. Ohio is currently struggling on the weight of a record high number of overdose deaths across the state.
While Ohio already makes sure to send out anti-drug talking points to educators across the state to use, there are challenges that continuously pop up. With an increase in class sizes and the current schedules of teachers, there are struggles to make sure that teachers and principals open, absorb, and use the emails that include the talking points. This is frustrating for many, as using these simple sentences regularly could mean the difference between success and drug addiction for a child.
DeWine and Kasich provided encouragement during their conference call, asking educator leaders to take full advantage of the resources, services, and messages that their offices provided to Ohio schools. They reiterated the importance of school districts doing everything they can to spread an anti-drug message to as many young people as possible. DeWine emphasized the need for comprehensive preventative services, stating that they were "not going to arrest [their] way out of the problem."
They spoke of the need for communities to rise up and form a grassroots movement that would stop opiate use dead in its tracks. DeWine stated that this is one of the most effective tools that the community has. He has seen amazing results when a community decides that it is sick of seeing their youth dying, and focus their energy on providing comprehensive preventative measures.
"It's focused on prevention, focused on treatment, focused on education...not on law enforcement," DeWine says about community movements. The communities that rise up to support the anti-drug message are usually the ones that prosper against the opiate addiction. That begins with community leaders taking a stance and moving the message forward.
Educators are in front of young people for seven hours a day and can have a catalyzing effect in their community while making sure that youth hear the message against drugs.