Take Charge Ohio Campaign Aims To Get People Thinking About Prescription Opioid Risks

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Representatives from agencies working to combat the opioid crisis across the state were in Athens Wednesday to promote a the Take Charge Ohio campaign. The goal of the new initiative is to educate the conversation between the medical community and the public about the risks of prescription opioid painkillers using multimedia ads and online educational resources.  

Opioid prescriptions have declined in Ohio over the past few years, from 793 million doses dispensed in 2012 to 631 million in 2016, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

But Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Medical Director Dr. Mark Hurst said these painkillers are still contributing to the state’s addiction crisis in a notable way.

(From L to R) Dr. Mark Hurst, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Medical Director; Lance Himes, Ohio Department of Health Director; AJ Groeber, State Medical Board of Ohio Executive Director; Steven Schierholt, State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy Executive Director; and Dr. James Gaskell, Athens City/County Health Department Commissioner discuss the Take Charge Ohio campaign at the 317 Board headquarters in Athens. (Aaron Payne)

“Prescription opioids are still involved in a significant number of opioid deaths every year. And, perhaps more importantly today, their abuse is often a gateway to the use of illicit opioids like heroin and fentanyl.”   

Agencies and boards attached to the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team primarily developed the campaign using a nearly million dollar grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The strength of the campaign is in the expectation that patients and prescribers will talk about the possibility of managing pain without opiods after reading the material.

Vinton County Health Department Commissioner Dr. Susan Crapes talks about efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in the region. (Aaron Payne)

Lance Himes, Ohio Department of Health Director, believes the Take Charge Ohio campaign is different than other drug misuse awareness campaigns because it encourages this conversation.

“Whereas other campaigns may have just been a message: ‘Just Say No’ or ‘Don’t Do Drugs,’ this has that extra component to it with an educated discussion,” he said.  

Public health leaders in southeast Ohio welcome the initiative as another tool to combat the opioid crisis. And getting people to think about using opioids sparingly, appropriately and responsibly is critical to turning the tide in the opioid crisis.

“I think prescribers will more safely manage their patients pain as a result of this program,” Dr. James Gaskell with the Athens City/County Health Department said. “And I think that it’s important that the consumers recognize the dangers of opioids.”

Representatives from the State Medical Board of Ohio, State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy and Vinton County Health Department also spoke at a press conference for the campaign held at the Athens-Hocking-Vinton Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (317) Board’s headquarters in Athens Wednesday.

More information about Take Charge Ohio can be found at