According to the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance, it is now more likely for Americans to die from an opiate overdose than in a car accident.
The Ohio Opioid Education Alliance is a coalition of business, education, nonprofit, civic and government organizations formed by the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Franklin County to educate and prevent young Ohioans from misusing and abusing opioids.
Opioid misuse is an epidemic across the US and Ohio is fighting one of the nation’s biggest drug use problems, only trailing slightly behind West Virginia, according to Alliance spokeswoman Blaine Davidson. There is actually some good news on that front, according to Lisa Roberts of the Portsmouth City Health Department.
Speaking in February at a meeting of Scioto County officials involved in the fight against opioids, Roberts said local statistics show substance abuse by local teens actually has fallen off.
The Opioid Alliance’s primary purpose is to promote and amplify the Denial, OH campaign currently playing on many TV sets throughout Ohio. The research-based campaign aims to shift the mindsets of parents and caregivers from the “not my kid” mentality to an acknowledgement prescription opioids are a threat and there are specific actions that can be taken to protect our younger generation from future opioid misuse.
With all that in mind, the Alliance recently provided some tips regarding talking to young children about drug and opioid use. Jennifer Martinez is Director of Clinical Services, Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (ADAMH.)
“Ohio’s unfortunate increase in opioid misuse is prompting many parents to ask, ‘How do you talk to your kids about drugs?’” Martinez said in a press release.
“We know that talking to your children can decrease their risk of using drugs by nearly half,” Martinez continued, “but the conversation is challenging and, while a great deal of information and advice exists, it’s not always easy to find. Martinez offered a few tips for parents to get started.
1. Talk to your kids about the responsible use of medication from an early age. Your children don’t have to be in high school to understand medication can be dangerous if it is not used correctly. These conversations can begin as early as preschool. Explain to your children vitamins are good for their health but can be harmful if too many are taken at once.
2. Discuss what is appropriate and inappropriate regarding the use of prescription drugs. Tell your children they should never take medicine from or share medicine with anyone else. It’s not just a bad idea, it’s actually illegal to share prescriptions.
3. Ask your kids what they know about drugs. Are they hearing about drugs in the music they listen to or on TV shows they watch? What are their peers saying about drugs? It’s important to ask open-ended questions to promote an open dialogue.
4. Be honest with your kids about why some people use drugs. While drugs make you feel good temporarily, they can significantly damage your body in the long run. If you have a history of drug abuse you want to discuss, be open but don’t over-share the details.
5. Promote a dialogue – don’t lecture your kids. Otherwise, they will lose interest and you will lose your credibility very quickly.
6. You can mention addiction genes. If addiction runs in your family, your children should know about it.
7. Ask your kids what questions they have for you.
“Opioid abuse prevention starts with parents,” Martinez said. “Talking to your kids about drug addiction is an important first step, but your actions will always speak louder than words.”
For more information on how to talk to your kids about opioid abuse, visit the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance’s website http://dontliveindenial.com/