Perrysburg wants more drug talk PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Thursday, 30 January 2014 10:43
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Perrysburg's Police Chief, Daniel Paez, speaking during the Start Talking kickoff, a new state campaign against youth drug use. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
PERRYSBURG - Police departments can't arrest their way out of one of the top problems in the state and across the country.
Instead they say we need to start talking, and not ignore what's become a public health epidemic.
That's the theme of the state's new approach to preventing youth drug abuse, encouraging everyone - not just parents, but grandparents, teachers and anyone else - to begin honest, blunt discussions with young people.
At a kick-off at Perrysburg High School on Wednesday, parents shared their own experiences and representatives of state and local agencies spoke in support of the "Start Talking" initiative.
Danielle Smoot's son, Cole, was 16 when he died from taking just one prescription pill, after someone who stole the drugs from a cancer patient's closet brought them to his school. When his parents learned about the pill, they took him to the emergency room, where he was evaluated and sent home to sleep off the drug's effects.
He didn't wake up the next morning.
"This one pill ended his life," Smoot said. "Just one bad decision."
By age 21, Paul Schoonover's son Matthew was addicted to heroin. He died one day after leaving a rehabilitation program.
"This kind of thing couldn't happen to our family. We didn't fit the mold."
After the news of his son's death, Schoonover heard something about the drug epidemic that he didn't expect.
"We are in a battle that we're losing, and we are engaged in a war that we cannot win," said the officer who talked with him that night.
So state leaders are drawing up new tactics, encouraging more education of the problem with both youth and adults and urging parents to be involved in their children's lives.
Several programs support the initiative, developed at the direction of Gov. John Kasich and his wife Karen. "Five Minutes for Life" endorses brief conversations between police and student athletes, who are encouraged to act as role models and talk with their peers about dangerous drugs. Another component will distribute emails to parents and educators several times each month offering discussion topics to help start dialogues between parents and children.
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Perrysburg Superintendent Thomas Hosler speaking during the Start Talking kickoff, a new state campaign against youth drug use.
"It would be easy to stick your head in the sand and say 'not here,'" but the Perrysburg district has confronted the problem and committed to joining the effort, said Richard Ross, state superintendent and director of the Ohio Department of Education.
"My 30 years of experience have taught me that even in the most wonderful communities, we're not immune from the tragedies of drug abuse," said Perrysburg Police Chief Dan Paez.
Other local representatives including Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler and Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn echoed the sentiment that drug abuse happens everywhere, even in top school districts like Perrysburg.
Hosler noted that it's important not to lecture students about danger, but rather talk to them "on their level."
Wasylyshyn said a common problem lies in that many young people don't think prescription drugs are dangerous because they can be legally prescribed by a doctor. He praised Perrysburg for working to develop a school resource officer program that will potentially increase the scope of drug prevention.
Powerful words also came from Todd Crandell, a drug addict who now operates a rehabilitation program, Racing for Recovery, in Sylvania.
At his worst, Crandell said he was using heroin, cocaine and anything he could get his hands on to numb the pain of experiencing at a young age his mother's drug-related suicide. But Crandell traced his hard-drug use back to high school, when he started drinking alcohol.
"I had everything that any kid could want, but inside I had absolutely nothing," he said. "That was the core of why I used drugs, to try to fill that void."
It boils down to confidence and having a sense of self worth, Crandell said. People who say no have those qualities, and it starts with a conversation.
"When we're talking about talking to our kids, that is my number one priority as a parent - to make sure that my kids do not do what I did and live the life that I had."
Also making remarks Wednesday were Tracy Plouck of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services; Bonnie Burman, director of the Ohio Department of Aging; and John Born, director of the state department of public safety.
For more information on the initiative, visit www.starttalking.ohio.gov.

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:26
 

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