Parents, schools and educators all play an important role in fighting the state’s heroin-abuse epidemic, Ohio’s governor and attorney general said at a forum Tuesday.
The remarks followed a report by the state Health Department that found a record 680 people died of heroin-related overdoses in 2012, the most recent year for which data was available, a 60 percent increase over 2011.
Heroin is “in every neighborhood, and every community,” Gov. John Kasich told educators from about 40 mainly suburban schools districts as he promoted the state’s “Start Talking” anti-drug addiction program during a visit to Worthington-Kilbourne High School outside Columbus.
“Do not think you are immune from this. We are not immune from this,” the governor said. “This drug problem in our culture is a poison that threatens the essence of who we are.”
The program emphasizes the importance of parents, teachers and others talking to children about staying off drugs as a way of lessening the chances they will become addicted.
Attorney General Mike DeWine said action addressing heroin must start at the local level, and has to involve law enforcement, education, prevention and treatment.
“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” DeWine said.
Ed FitzGerald, Kasich’s Democratic opponent in the fall governor’s race, and David Pepper, DeWine’s Democratic challenger for attorney general, criticized the state’s efforts against heroin as delayed and anemic.