Misuse of opioids, including prescription pain medications, is a serious problem in Ohio and across the country. Overdose deaths from opioids have created a public health emergency. In 2016, more than 4,000 Ohioans died of an unintentional drug overdose—more than car accidents—ranking Ohio as #1 in the nation. All areas of Ohio are affected by the epidemic of drug overdoses: rural, suburban, and urban.
Prescription opioids are found in many medicine cabinets, making them readily available. Half of those who misuse these prescription painkillers obtained them from a family member or friend for free. The prevalence of other drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl, is also a cause for concern.
The issues related to opioids are very complex. It will take an entire community effort over the long term to address the current issues and the underlying causes.
What can adults who work with Cloverbud-age children do?
- Find out if your local community has a drop-off location for prescription drugs and disseminate this information to your 4-H families so they understand how to dispose of these medications properly.
- Emphasize that no one should take medicine that is not prescribed for them or give their prescription medication to anyone else.
- Have a pharmacist come to talk to the club about medication safety.
- Do activities that help youth to be positively engaged in their community, as well as those that build their communication, social and emotional, and interpersonal skills, which will help them build a foundation to resist future peer pressure.
- Learn about drug addiction and how it is a disease that affects the brain.
- Access materials from the Generation Rx Toolkit developed by Ohio State University’s College of Pharmacy.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.org/drugoverdose/opioids
Generation Rx: www.generationrx.org
National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction
Ohio Department of Health: https://www.odh.ohio.gov/-/media/ODH/ASSETS/Files/health/injury-prevention/2016-Ohio-Drug-Overdose-Report-FINAL.pdf?la=en
State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy: http://pharmacy.ohio.gov/Pubs/DrugDisposalResources.aspx