Keeping Drugs Out Of The Hands Of Ohio's Youth
A Guest Editorial by State Senator Scott Oelslager

In 2011, drug overdoses were the leading cause of accidental deaths in Ohio, with one Ohioan dying from a drug overdose every five hours.  In the past year, prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most of the drug abuse among 12th graders.  Research shows that 1 in 6 teens has used a prescription drug in order to get high or change their mood.  Of those teens who abuse pain killers, about two-thirds say they get them from family members and friends.
This is a public health epidemic that cannot be ignored.
That is why I am proud to support “Start Talking!” – a new initiative, spearheaded by the Governor and First Lady, which provides tools for parents, guardians, educators, and community leaders to help start the conversation with Ohio’s youth about living healthy, drug-free lives.
Research tells us that when parents and other adults talk to children about substance abuse, they are up to 50 percent less likely to use.  Start Talking! provides resources for parents and other adults to help them begin this important conversation with the young people in their lives. 
Start Talking! provides four programs:

  • “5 Minutes for Life” encourages student athletes to become ambassadors, lead peer-to-peer conversations and promote these key drug-free concepts via social media.
  • “Building Youth Resiliency” assists local communities in utilizing evidence-based programs to help youth resist substance abuse. 
  • “Know!” provides free twice-monthly emails that offer parents and school leaders current facts about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, as well as action steps they may take to help children resist peer pressure.
  • “Parents360 Rx” aims to increase adults’ knowledge of substance abuse by offering a free toolkit consisting of an 11-minute video, a discussion guide and additional handouts. 

For more information on Start Talking! and how you can be involved, visit
We’ve also taken other measures in the legislature intended to provide accountability for prescription drugs. For instance, House Bill 367, which is currently pending in the Senate Education Committee, would require each school district to include instruction on prescription opioid abuse prevention in their schools’ curriculum.
Finally, we need to raise awareness on how to properly pitch the unused medicines so they are not abused.  Statistics show that one person dies every 19 minutes from drug overdose in the United States.  This increasing trend is driven by prescription painkillers.  Within each county in Ohio are drug drop boxes for disposing of unneeded prescription drugs.  In Stark County, there are 10 drug collection boxes.  These boxes are located at all of the county’s police departments and have 24/7 surveillance.  This safe, eco-friendly way of destroying drugs is an important program to help rid our community of the drugs that may get circulated.  To find a drug drop box nearest to you, go to
This issue is of utmost importance and I will continue to update you on any legislative action or state activities that may help you and our community.  Together we can make a difference and curb this horrific problem.  As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if ever I can be of assistance with any state government-related issue.

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