Ohio Launches Youth Drug Abuse Prevention Initiative, "Start Talking!"

Press Release

Date: Jan. 8, 2014
Location: Columbus, OH

As we focus on our New Year's resolutions for 2014, Ohio Gov. John R.
Kasich and First Lady Karen W. Kasich urge Ohio families to adopt a pledge for the
coming year: a pledge that will help keep their children safe from the tragedies that
result from drugs. It's part of START TALKING, a new drug abuse prevention initiative
being kicked off in Ohio today with a focus on ways we can all work to reduce the
likelihood of youth drug use before it even starts.

START TALKING is inspired by research that shows youth are up to 50 percent less
likely to use drugs when parents and adults talk with them about substance use and

"We're making real progress in fighting prescription drug abuse in Ohio, because we
made up our minds to fight the problem head on," said Gov. Kasich. "But we still have
more work to do because illicit drug abuse remains a huge problem in our state. Our law
enforcement agencies are fighting to curb abuse on the supply end, and each of us as
parents can do our part by talking to our children. Start Talking pulls together many
proven strategies, giving us some very potent tools that let us come at the problem from
all sides. It's a tough problem that calls for an even tougher fight. But it's a fight we
must win, because our future -- our children -- are at stake."

"I hear heartbreaking stories around the state about parents who have lost children to
drug abuse or overdose before their youthful potential could be fully realized," said Ohio
First Lady Karen Kasich. "As a mother, I know that no family or neighborhood -- affluent
or disadvantaged, urban or rural -- is immune from the dangers of drugs. However, we
can educate ourselves, connect with our communities and start talking to our children
about these issues to help them resist peer pressure and temptations to use drugs."

Drug abuse is a public health epidemic across the nation, and Ohio is not immune. In
2011, drug overdoses were the leading cause of accidental deaths in our state, with one
Ohioan dying from a drug overdose every five hours. Under Gov. Kasich's leadership,
Ohio has made attacking the drug problem a priority. Efforts are underway to broaden
public and professional education, particularly regarding the prescribing and abuse of
opioids; law enforcement has ramped up interdiction efforts on our highways and in our
communities; and treatment options and recovery supports have been expanded to help
those struggling with addiction regain control of their lives.

Gov. Kasich and Mrs. Kasich kicked off the new initiative today at events at West
Carrollton Middle School and Finneytown Local School District Secondary School and
were joined by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, former Cincinnati Bengal Hall of
Famer Anthony Muñoz, Ohio Superintendent of Instruction Richard Ross, Ohio
Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Tracy Plouck, Ohio
Department of Aging Director Bonnie Burman, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr.
Ted Wymyslo and Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born.

To date, a number of schools have pledged their support and committed to promoting
the new START TALKING program. The initiative brings together four programs
designed to interact with parents, other adults and youth in different ways:

* Know! is a drug prevention and awareness partnership developed by The DrugFree Action Alliance that targets parents and caregivers of middle school
students and empowers them to raise their children substance-free. Its goal is to
increase communication between parents and their children about substance
abuse. This is achieved through free, twice-monthly emails that offer parent
tips to families to help them talk about this subject.
* Parents360 Rx is a component of a national community education program
developed by the Partnership at Drugfree.org that has demonstrated significantly
increased knowledge of substance abuse among adults, thereby enhancing
confidence in their ability to speak with teens about the subject. Ohio is
disseminating Parents360 Rx Action Toolkits to assist parents and school
leaders in hosting discussions locally to support prevention efforts in their
* 5 Minutes for Life is led by the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Ohio National
Guard, in partnership with high schools and the Ohio High School Athletic
Association (OHSAA). Patrol and National Guard members talk to student
athletes and encourage them to become ambassadors who lead peer-to-peer
conversations that promote healthy lifestyles. The statewide partnership involves
all 58 Patrol Posts, more than 800 OHSAA-member high schools and Ohio
National Guard Service members from around the state.
* Building Youth Resiliency and encouraging good behavioral health among
young people are both essential to enhancing their ability to resist substance
abuse and addiction. The Office of Ohio First Lady Karen W. Kasich, in
partnership with other state agencies, is seeking applications to assist local
communities in utilizing evidence-based programs to help youth resist substance
use. This initiative will give communities and schools the tools to develop
student's resiliency so they have the courage to push back against peer