Talking To Ohio's Youth About Drugs Cannot Be Ignored
By Rep. Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hills)
January 13, 2014
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Drug abuse is a serious topic throughout the country, and has been a major area of focus for the Ohio General Assembly over the past few years. In 2011, an Ohioan died every five hours from a drug overdose, which was the leading cause of accidental death in our state at the time.

Like so many aspects of life, the value of education cannot be overstated. The more people are aware that this is a problem, the easier it will be to combat. Even more, educating young people of the dangerous effects of drug use will set them on a path of better health and improved opportunities in life. That is why I was happy to learn of a new initiative brought forward by the governor’s office aimed at reaching out to our youth and their parents.

Beginning this month, the governor’s office is introducing the Start Talking program, which will help schools and parents address the often difficult task of talking to young people about drug use.

Within the Start Talking initiative are four smaller, specialized programs that provide a narrower focus that meets people where they are in life. One example is called “5 Minutes for Life,” which partners with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to talk to student athletes. Like all of Ohio, here in Cuyahoga County we know how popular athletics are to young people, so this is a great opportunity to share this important information with young people. Mentors, such as coaches, play such a major part in the lives of so many high school students, not only in sports but also in life.

Another program, simply called Know!, focuses on the parent-child relationship and offers advice for parents for how to talk about the subject. One reason, I believe, why it can be so hard for parents to talk with their kids about drugs is all parents want to believe that their children will not be tempted by dangerous substances. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Several schools across the state have joined the effort and made this a priority in their districts. As these programs unfold, small steps can make a major difference in the lives of our youth.
For more information on this program, please visit www.StartTalking.Ohio.Gov.

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