Start Talking! To End Drug & Substance Abuse
A Guest Column by Senator Bill Beagle
February 26, 2014
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As a father of three teenagers, I know firsthand the desire to protect my children from any danger or trial that may come their way.  That is why I am joining the “Start Talking!” campaign, Ohio’s new drug-awareness initiative to encourage parents, like myself, to have conversations with our children about living drug-free lifestyles. 
Did you know that in 2011, drug overdoses were the leading cause of accidental deaths in our state?  Not only that, but this problem is specifically targeting our children.  One in six teens have used prescription drugs in order to get high or change their mood, and two-thirds of teens who abuse pain killers get them from a family member or a friend. 
These statistics are startling, but the one I am truly amazed by is this: children whose parents talk early and often about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use are up to 50% less likely to use in the first place.  That is why I want to make sure that my children know how to resist peer-pressure and learn to cope with life’s difficulties without turning to substances.
As parents, we often don’t know what to say or how to talk to our children about topics such as substance abuse, which is why Start Talking! offers helpful parent tips twice a month that contain facts and actionable steps to help children resist peer-pressure.  Join me by visiting StartTalking.Ohio.Gov/ParentTips. Further support is offered through the Parents360 RX toolkit, available at StartTalking.Ohio.Gov/Toolkit.
Our teachers, administrators and coaches have a lasting effect and impression on teenagers and also need to start talking to students and athletes about substance abuse.  Teachers can sign up for tips on how to approach the subject and encourage students to make good choices at StartTalking.Ohio.Gov/TeachableMoments.  Coaches can call student athletes to lead their school to start talking by setting up a 5 Minutes for Life program through the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Ohio National Guard by contacting Staff Lieutenant Anne Ralston at (614) 752-2792.
Together, as a community, we can make a difference; all we have to do is start talking to our children and to each other about how to fight drug addiction in our neighborhoods, schools and communities.  Join me in the effort to start talking today!

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