COLUMBUS - 

There has not been a day that goes by here at the Statehouse where the words “heroin” or “opioids” have not been spoken in my office. Ohio’s overdose deaths hit 4,050 last year. Being from southwest Ohio, the amount of overdoses in our communities definitely reaches the level of “epidemic.” Just a few months ago, Cincinnati was in the national headlines as the Washington Post had an article titled: “’This is unprecedented’: 174 heroin overdoses in 6 days in Cincinnati.”


In Middletown, although a much smaller city, the situation is not much different. Seeing this hit close to home, I was proud to be appointed to the Speaker’s Task Force on Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education, and Safety (HOPES). At meetings held throughout the state, I have been learning about various tactics to combat the drug epidemic and additionally have been meeting with community members who are on the frontline of this battle. It has been an amazing journey, as I learned that there are so many groups providing resources for those suffering with addiction.


While there are so many resources to try and help those currently addicted, it seems as if prevention is truly the key in ending the epidemic. The effects of heroin and opioids on their mind, body, soul, friends and loved ones are horrific. So, why would anyone ever want to try this stuff in the first place?


While there are great resources so that schools can help with prevention, I believe the ultimate source of prevention are parents. Parents can reduce their child’s likelihood to use by 50 percent by simply talking to them about the dangers of drug use. While teenagers certainly have enormous peer pressure, parents ultimately are the key to preventing drug abuse in the first place.


In the Journal of Primary Prevention, which included a study of 4,200 U.S. students in grades 7-12, they found the following impacts of family dynamics on drug abuse:



  • For every point increase in parental tolerance of alcohol use, the frequency of teen use of alcohol increased by 80 percent.

  • For every point increase in parental tolerance of marijuana use, there was a 33 percent increase in the frequency of marijuana use.

  • The frequency of drug use dropped by 10 percent-14 percent for each degree that teens perceived their parents as monitoring their activities.


While alcohol and marijuana are certainly not the same as heroin or opioids, the same principles still apply. Staying involved and having boundaries for your teen is imperative to reduce the likelihood of drug use. The National Crime Prevention Council has six basic suggestions for parents for drug prevention:



  • Establish and maintain good communication with your children: The better you know your children, the easier it will be to guide them towards positive activities and friendships.

  • Get involved in your children’s lives: Help your children manage problems by asking what is wrong when they seem upset and letting them know you are there to help.

  • Make clear rules and enforce them consistently: Research shows that when parents set harsh rules or no rules, kids are more likely to use drugs.

  • Be a positive role model: Remember you set the example. Avoid contradictions between your words and your actions.

  • Help your friends choose friends wisely: When children have friends who don’t engage in risky behaviors, they are likely to resist them too.

  • Talk to your children about drugs: When parents talk to their kids early and often about substance abuse, kids are less likely to try drugs.


This advice may seem simple; however, it is vital to reduce your youth’s likelihood to start using drugs. You as a parent, grandparent, relative, or parental figure have a large impact on a child’s life, even if it may not seem like it at the time. Guide them wisely away from these horrid drugs called opioids. 

 
 
 
  
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