Drug Prevention Initiative Launched At Marietta High School

By
Merle Tilk

Dateline
Updated Wed, Apr 23, 2014 4:38 pm

"Adam" had a happy childhood, his parents were married, he had fun friends, got good grades. In high school he tried a little bit of alcohol, smoked a little bit of marijuana. "But it didn't seem that things were totally out of control," he said.

But things got out of control when he went to college. He became friends with the wrong people, ended up taking pills, cocaine and heroin. He got arrested twice and spent more than two years in prison.

"Adam", who doesn't want to be identified by his real name, shared his story of being a drug addict on Tuesday with students at Marietta High School.

"I'm humbled that my story can potentially resonate with someone," the Marietta High School alumnus explained.

His speech was part of a regional launch of a new drug prevention initiative. With "Start Talking," Governor John R. Kasich and his wife Karen W. Kasich seek to reduce the likelihood of youth drug use before it even starts.

According to Partnership at Drugfree.org young people are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs when parents and adults talk with them about substance use and abuse.

Tracy Plouck, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, said the most effective intervention would be prevention.

"If fewer people begin to use drugs then we have less need for treatment downstream and we have fewer deaths."

According to Plouck the initiative consists of four components focusing on providing free information to parents and other interested adults and building the self-confidence and resilience of middle school and high school youth.

One component is called "5 Minutes for Life." Local law enforcement along with Ohio Highway Patrol and the National Guard talk with student athletes about the importance of being drug free role models for students in the school.

Another component is to give advice to parents on how to start a conversation with their children about drug use. Parents can sign up for a bi-weekly email.

"Sometimes it's just awkward and uncomfortable, you don't know how to start a conversation and what we're trying to do is to provide parents with some tips," Plouck said.

"Adam" thinks parents have an important role in preventing young people from substance abuse.

"The parent can go to the kid and say, 'Hey, let's talk about it'. That builds a dynamic relationship," he explained.

It's a conversations "Adam" regrets he didn't take advantage of when he was younger, when it could have changed the course of his life.

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