The opiate epidemic affects people across the state and country.
But a Clark County drug symposium Wednesday night at Tecumseh High School had as its focus one specific age group.
“This can occur anyplace in Ohio, among any different age group,” said Ohio Attorney Gen. Mike DeWine. However, the symposium hosted by DeWine targeted adolescents, which he said can become addicted five times faster than adults.
In the auditorium where she usually sits for school assemblies, 15-year-old sophomore Charlene Rine learned more about the opiate epidemic. “I figured maybe I can come here and learn about all this stuff that’s happening and maybe make an impact on my friends or on my school,” she said.
Opiate abuse and overdose deaths has hit Tecumseh High School before. In 2011, Cole Smoot took a prescription tablet from a friend, and died. While Cole was not an addict, DeWine emphasized there is no typical addict. Early teenagers, in more in their middle to late teens, are trying opiates and becoming hooked.
“We’ve got to get in front of this, that’s the only way we’re going to do it,” DeWine said.
The Attorney General wants more education in schools, starting with kindergartners.
“This can happen to you, it can happen to a loved one. It’s not just someone else on the nightly news, and I think when people understand that, that’s the first step in trying to deal with the problem,” DeWine said.
As part of DeWine’s education efforts, his office put together a video about Cole, the teen from Tecumseh High who died. It will be shown throughout the state as part of their outreach efforts.