Drug committee calls for early drug education

By Frank Lewis - flewis@civitasmedia.com

At least eight people die each day from accidental drug overdoses in Ohio, when multiplied by 365, the potential is for 2,920 people to die from accidental overdoses every year. One of the illegal drug hot spots in Ohio is Scioto County where another rash of overdoses occurred recently, caused by an influx of fentanyl.

Now, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) have released the Ohio Joint Study Committee on Drug Use Prevention Education’s list of recommendations on options for implementing age-appropriate substance abuse education in schools across all grade levels.

Attorney General DeWine, Speaker Rosenberger, and former Senate President Keith Faber created the study committee in August.

DeWine said the study committee concluded that Ohio schools should provide consistent, age-appropriate, evidence-based substance abuse education for all students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. While there is currently no actual curriculum, the committee reportedly offered some examples of curriculum that could possibly be used to meet the recommendation.

Dewine said because there is no baseline for determining how schools are currently implementing substance abuse education in Ohio, the group also recommended that Ohio adopt a reporting system that requires schools to publicly report how they are fulfilling their requirements to provide substance abuse education.

“At least eight people are dying each day in Ohio from accidental drug overdoses. This is happening in our cities, suburbs, and small towns, and no community is immune,” DeWine said. “We must educate all of Ohio’s kids early-on and keep repeating the message about the dangers of drug addiction. This report will serve as a road map to help implement comprehensive substance abuse prevention programs.”

The committee also recognized the importance of social and emotional education. This instruction teaches good decision-making skills, builds self-esteem, and encourages positive interactions with others, which in turn, could help students resist alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Social and emotional education is currently only provided in schools through the third grade, but the committee recommends these skills be taught across all grade levels.

“I want to commend the members on this joint committee for their thorough and informative work,” Rosenberger said. “Their collaborative and organized process has brought forward a series of recommendations that can truly make a difference in the lives of Ohio’s students. As we continue to find ways to curtail opioid abuse in the state, there is nothing more important than ensuring that our children are aware of the dangers of drug addiction and how it can ruin their futures and rob them of a healthy, successful life. I want to also thank Representatives Robert Sprague, Terry Johnson, and Heather Bishoff for their work on the committee and to all the members for their efforts in keeping Ohio’s kids drug free.”

The group also recommended that before and after school programs coordinate with schools to reinforce drug-free messages and that schools and communities incorporate ongoing assessments to evaluate current trends and the effectiveness of preventative strategies. It also recommended that law enforcement’s presence in schools continue to be a practice as a part of the process, and that law enforcement and other officials work with parent/teacher organizations.

The Daily Times reached out to State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) who served on the committee, but did not receive a response.

In total, the Ohio Joint Study Committee on Drug Use Prevention Education issued 15 recommendations. The complete report is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

Copies of the report will be provided to schools and communities across the state, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and members of the Ohio General Assembly.

By Frank Lewis


Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.