COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The opioid crisis in central Ohio has not abated in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. In many ways, the pandemic has made things worse. In response, this week the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance will launch a new PSA campaign that warns parents and caregivers about the increase in mental health issues and the heightened risk of substance misuse brought on by the pandemic. The Alliance encourages parents to have important conversations with their children about mental health and the dangers of prescription drug misuse.
Ohio has seen record rates of unemployment, surges in liquor sales and in Franklin County, rising rates of overdose deaths – a 65% increase in the first six months of 2020. The added stress that COVID-19 has brought is evident – isolation, decreased access to medical treatment and the challenge in finding distractions have all escalated the problem.
The Alliance, responsible for the Denial, OH ad campaign, will premiere the new campaign featuring Columbus Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Mysheika Roberts, and Franklin County Public Health Commissioner, Joe Mazzola. Both Roberts and Mazzola are on the front lines addressing mental health and substance misuse which has risen substantially since March.
"We are fortunate to have the support and expertise of our members, including Commissioners Dr. Roberts and Joe Mazzola, to ensure we don't lose sight of our goal to prevent the next generation from misusing prescription pills," said Chad Jester, Nationwide Foundation president, a founding member of the Alliance.
Significant attention has been given to how adults are impacted by the pandemic, but the impact on kids and teens should not be overlooked.
"As parents it's important to remember that our children are coping with drastic life changes," said Roberts. "Now more than ever, we have an increased responsibility to talk to our kids about healthy coping strategies to combat feelings of anxiety."
The stress of COVID-19 is resulting in a rise in drug and alcohol use, and drug misuse often begins at home. One in 4 teens misuses a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime, and 42% of teens get them from their parents' medicine cabinets.
"It's up to us to prevent the next generation from misusing prescription drugs," said Mazzola. "We must talk to our kids about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and dispose of our unused prescription drugs."
About the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance The Ohio Opioid Education Alliance is a coalition of business, education, nonprofit, civic and government organizations formed by the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Franklin County, to educate and prevent young Ohioans from misusing prescription opioids. More information can be found at DontLiveinDenial.org.