Ohio Governor John Kasich has recently launched a campaign called "Start Talking" that encourages parents to start talking to kids about drugs and the dangers of substance abuse. According to the governor, overdoses have recently become the leading cause of accidental death in the state, surpassing automobile accidents.
At a kick-off event at a Columbus high school, Gov. Kasich was joined by his wife, NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz and Tracy Plouck, director of the state's Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
"Kids are using drugs and tempted to use drugs all across the state, and there's a sort of 'not-in-my-backyard' sense among parents sometimes," Plouck said to The Associated Press. "What we're really trying to do is raise parental awareness that it can happen, and it's important to stay ahead of that."
She also noted that middle school children are particularly at risk of abusing drugs and alcohol. At that age they are still forming opinions, and it is important that parents are actively having conversations with them about drug abuse and addiction.
Other initiatives in the "Start Talking" program include:
- Development of guides for teachers who want to talk to their students about addiction.
- Ohio National Guard and State Highway Patrol members meeting with high school athletes to encourage them to talk to their peers about drugs.
- Publication of a guide that will detail how to properly dispose of prescription medications and talk to children about their dangers.