State Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township) this week joined Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and state legislative leaders to announce the formation of the Ohio Joint Study Committee on Drug Use Prevention Education.
The committee will examine the status of drug use prevention education in Ohio schools and develop plans aimed at implementing age-appropriate drug education in schools across all grade levels.
“There is no one silver bullet that will end Ohio's drug addiction crisis, but a thorough reexamination of the prevention programs offered to our children marks another crucial step in our ongoing efforts to combat and preempt the problem," said Eklund. "Effective prevention programs have the ability to save countless lives by addressing the problem before it even begins at a fraction of the cost that addiction treatment programs demand."
Senator Eklund is the sponsor of Senate Bill 319 which addresses Ohio's opiate addiction epidemic through enhanced oversight and takes further steps to address the issue of over-prescribing. He also serves as chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
"Ohio is facing the worst drug epidemic that I've seen in my lifetime. We need to change how we think about and talk about drugs, and we need to start this culture change with Ohio's children," said Attorney General DeWine. "Through the work of this committee, we hope to identify strategies that schools can use to provide comprehensive, age-appropriate drug use prevention education across all grade levels to help prevent future addiction."
"As a state we’ve made great strides in raising awareness about the opioid epidemic and making life-saving treatment more readily available, but we still have work to do," said Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina). "I look forward to working with Attorney General DeWine and other members of this committee to bring the fight against opioid abuse into the classroom so our children can grow up in a healthy, drug-free environment.”
The committee will hold at least four meetings across the state to find out what types of drug prevention education is currently being provided in schools, identify what schools need to help expand their drug prevention education efforts, and determine how to best administer this education across all grade levels.
Members of the Ohio Joint Study Committee on Drug Use Prevention Education include:
Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township)
Senator Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township)
Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights)
Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay)
Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott)
Representative Heather Bishoff (D-Blacklick)
Tom Gunlock, President, Ohio State Board of Education
Sarah Wickham, Senior Policy Advisor, Ohio Department of Education
Cheri Walter, Executive Director, Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities
Sarah Smith, Start Talking!, Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services
Molly Stone, Prevention Bureau Chief, Ohio Department Mental Health & Addiction Services
Kevin Lorson, Ohio Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
Marcie Seidel, Executive Director, Drug Free Action Alliance
Betsy Walker, Director of Community Relations, Cardinal Health
Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon
Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer
Dean Nance, Superintendent, Ironton City Schools
Neil Gupta, Director of Secondary Education, Worthington City Schools
Krish Mohip, CEO, Youngstown City Schools
Chris Monsour, Columbian High School, Tiffin
Stephanie Nowak, Fairfax Elementary Schools, Mentor
Bob Hammond, President, United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley
The committee plans to issue a report by the end of the year outlining its findings and recommendations.