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Start Talking!: Building a Drug-Free Future

Portage County - The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County is working to spread awareness of Ohio’s new program, Start Talking!: Building a Drug-Free Future.

Found at starttalking.ohio.gov, the website is for parents and teachers. It is aimed at helping adults learn how to start the conversation with teens and children about drug abuse.

“Portage County is among many places in Ohio where deaths from drug overdose have exceeded deaths from car accidents. Start Talking! is a tool for parents and others who work with youth to be able to have critical conversations; especially when the number of accidental deaths is increasing,” says Joel Mowrey, Ph.D., executive director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board.

The MHRB has developed a postcard highlighting important information about Start Talking! and will be distributing these postcards around the Portage County area. Those interested in helping to spread the word about Start Talking! can also call the MHRB at 330-673-1756 and receive postcards to share at their own school, work or other social functions or events. The postcards give parents and teachers the information needed to access and best use the online resources that Start Talking! provides.

Launched by Governor John Kasich and First Lady Karen Kasich, Start Talking!: Building a Drug-Free Future is a statewide initiative with a focus on preventing drug abuse among Ohio’s children and youth. In addition to the abuse of illegal substances, an increase in recent years of prescription drugs being brought into homes allows these dangerous drugs to find their way into the hands of children and teens and cause addictions just as dangerous as those of illegal substances.

Start Talking! has several components. Know! targets parents and educators of middle school students, providing them with the tools and encouragement to increase communication about substance abuse with youth. This program includes free resources attained through bi-monthly e-mails which contain Parent Tips on how to have the conversation about substance abuse with children and TEACHable Moments to show educators ways in which they can use their position to reinforce messages about drug abuse.

Parents360 Rx is a program that focuses on educating parents and other adults. It helps them to increase their knowledge about substance abuse and improve their confidence in starting the conversation with their children and teens. This program includes an online Parents360 Rx Action Toolkit which is meant to assist parents or other adults in having substance-abuse conversations with adolescents. The Toolkit also includes directions and resources to help school or community leaders, groups or even individuals to host Parents360 Rx workshops of their own in their communities.

5 Minutes for Life is a Start Talking! program geared toward Ohio and local law enforcement officers and how they can help in starting the conversation among Ohio’s youth. This program involves Ohio Highway Patrol, Ohio National Guard and local law enforcement talking to student athletes at the beginning of practices or games and encouraging them to become promoters of healthy and drug-free lifestyles among their peers.

For more information, contact the Mental Health & Recovery Board at 330-673-1756. The board’s website is www.mental-health-recovery.org and can be found on Facebook.

Amie Cajka is the Director of Community Relations for the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.The Mental Health & Recovery Board is a county agency that fund, plans and monitors public mental health and substance abuse treatment services for Portage County residents. Last year, the board invested in services that helped more than 7,000 children, teens and adults. The board also funds the 24-hour crisis intervention services which handle more than 39,000 contacts each year. The agency is primarily funded by local levies. To contact the board, call 330-673-1756.