Although substance abuse isn’t exactly a new problem, the scope of the issue has increased astronomically since the turn of the twenty-first century. Many people attribute the substance abuse problem and addiction epidemic we see today to the release of OxyContin in 1996, followed by Purdue Pharma’s aggressive marketing campaign for the opioid narcotic. Whether the pharmaceutical company is partly to blame or not, there’s no question that the over-prescribing of painkillers in the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s has contributed significantly to the escalating addiction rates.
In recent years, it’s been estimated that approximately one in ten Americans currently suffers from a substance abuse problem. Of those individuals, about 90 percent of them aren’t receiving any treatment for their addictions. This is extremely disturbing and has made many public officials very vocal about the issue, particularly those who hold public office.
Sure enough, it seems the Ohio Attorney General is impassioned when it comes to our war against this deadly disease. Today, there have been reports released concerning a new strategy that this politician is taking with regards to substance abuse prevention: improving substance abuse education among youths.
Heroin Epidemic Has Made Attorney General Mike DeWine Passionate About Substance Abuse Education
Mike DeWine — Attorney General of Ohio — has been extremely vocal about our need to address the addiction problem occurring in communities large and small across the U.S. In 2013, DeWine stated a task force called the Heroin Unit to track down individuals trafficking heroin and other narcotics throughout the state of Ohio. The Heroin Unit worked in conjunction with the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC), the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI), the Special Prosecutions Section, and numerous drug about outreach specialists.
According to DeWine, four or five Ohioans die from heroin use every single day, a statistic that shows just how serious a problem this has become. A large part of the issue has been that heroin is so widely available, which DeWine has attempted to address with his heroin task force that’s now been in operation for almost three years. However, the issue of the wide availability of heroin isn’t all that’s been feeding this growing epidemic. As well, we’re not able to “arrest our way out of this problem,” DeWine said earlier this year. “We have to do a better job with education and prevention, and we have to do a better job with treatment and make that treatment available.”
DeWine Has Created a Panel to Study Drug Use Prevention Education in Schools
It seems DeWine has now shifted his attention to the issue of addiction prevention through education. Alongside Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the formation of the Ohio Joint Study Committee on Drug Use Prevention Education last Thursday, August 11. In the press release that accompanied the announcement, it said the purpose of the committee is to examine the level and quality of drug use prevention education that’s offered in Ohio schools so that recommendations can be given to implement and optimize age-appropriate drug use education at all grade levels.
This announcement comes just five months after DeWine was seen visiting public schools, sitting in classrooms to observe lectures being given to student about substance abuse. In particular, DeWine was observing the education program — called Brain Power, which was developed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse — offered at Center Middle School in Boardman, Ohio, because it offered topical substance abuse prevention education for students in all grades rather than just selective grades as it had historically been done. It’s likely that DeWine was doing research for his current proposal, which is essentially to target addiction at what could very well be its source.
Ohio is facing the worst drug epidemic that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” DeWine said in a public statement. “We need to change how we think about drugs and how we talk about drugs, and we need to start this culture change with Ohio’s children.”
The idea behind DeWine’s plan is to develop an effective drug abuse prevention curriculum for each grade level, from kindergarten to twelfth grade; since youths are the most likely age group to have had no experience with substance abuse, an effective substance abuse prevention education would encourage abstinence at younger ages and, in theory, should dramatically reduce the rate at which addiction develops in adults. It’s a plan about which Attorney General DeWine is very passionate. Speaker Rosenberg spoke optimistically about the committee, too.
“Tackling the state’s opioid abuse epidemic from all sides is crucial to stemming addiction and saving lives.” Rosenberg went on to say, “Prevention is the key, and this study committee will work to ensure that Ohio’s students are being educated early and properly so that they are aware of the dangers of drug abuse and addiction.”
Where Can I Learn More About Substance Abuse Recovery Programs Near Me?
If you’re ready to get involved in a substance abuse recovery program or want to work with a fellowship group that can help you stay on the path to a sober lifestyle, our specialists can help connect you with others like yourself. Call 1-800-481-8457, or visit us online at www.Ohioarc.com to find out more about the groups working in your area.