Don’t live in Denial, Ohio; talk to your kids about opioids
A new coalition formed to educate central Ohioans about the danger of opioids launched a multimedia campaign Tuesday that warns against underestimating the risk.
The setting for the public-service announcements is the fictional town of Denial, Ohio, where parents don’t think their children could be affected by the state’s crisis of abuse and addiction.
“Every child, every teen, is a potential victim of this epidemic,” said Jonathan Wylly, chief fiscal officer for the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County. “Our plea is simple: Please, parents, don’t live in Denial, Ohio.”
The ADAMH board joined business, civic and community organizations to create the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance, a public-private partnership that aims to put more resources into prevention. “Prevention has always been underfunded, even compared to treatment,” Wylly said during a news conference at the board offices Downtown.
The Nationwide Foundation played a primary role in establishing the alliance, donating $2 million to a fund at the Columbus Foundation to pay for the initial work of the community-education campaign. More than a dozen businesses and nonprofit groups have signed onto the effort, and more are expected.
Chad Jester, Nationwide Foundation president, said the organization felt compelled to get involved in a public health problem that knows no geographic or socioeconomic bounds. “All of us have our own personal stories about how we have been touched by this crisis,” he said.
The campaign unveiled this week is available on digital streaming platforms such as YouTube, Hulu and Roku and will be on television, radio and billboards later this summer. Information also is online at DontLiveinDenial.org.
“I lived in Denial, Ohio, for many, many years,” said Brenda Stewart, founder of The Addict’s Parents (TAP) United. “I always thought, ‘Not my kid,’ same as what you saw on the screen.”
She and other speakers stressed the need for families to view addiction as more than a remote possibility. Nearly 80 percent of Americans using heroin reported misusing prescription opioids first, according to federal drug-abuse surveys.
Ohio’s opioid epidemic remains among the nation’s worst, with overdose death tolls climbing to some 14 a day in 2017. Drug overdose deaths in Franklin County hit 520 last year, a 47 percent increase from 2016.
Andrew Moss, director of the Maryhaven Addiction Stabilization Center, said about 10 people overdose every day in Columbus. The stabilization center has been open just five months, he said, and already has admitted 600 people. Effective prevention could perhaps put him out of a job, Moss said, “And maybe I’m OK with that.”
Supporters say the new media campaign is based on research that indicates most people are aware of the crisis, yet don’t perceive much of a threat to their own children and families.
Vanessa Perkins, a former user who has been in recovery for more than eight years, makes sure she’s the one to talk to her 10-year-old son about drugs. “I should educate him,” Perkins said, “before somebody sideways educates him.”
To watch one of the ads, go to https://youtu.be/ieraoqVu-Bw
By: Rita Price, The Columbus Dispatch