The Ohio Opioid Education Alliance launched a new public service announcement campaign last week in central Ohio aimed at warning parents and caregivers about the increase in substance abuse and mental health issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following reports or record unemployment, liquor sales, and overdose deaths in the state, the ad campaign, called Denial, OH, will feature Columbus Public Health Commissioner Mysheika Roberts and Franklin County Public Health Commissioner Joe Mazzola, addressing the issues and urging parents to talk to their children about how the pandemic may be affecting them.
“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 Alliance said that the stress of the pandemic is leading to a rise in drug and alcohol use. In Franklin County, the first six months of 2020 has seen a 65 percent increase in overdose deaths.
Noting that drug misuse often begins at home, the ad campaign stresses that one in four teenagers misuses a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime and that more than 40 percent of teens get those drugs from their homes.
“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.”