The state of Ohio has recently put forth a considerable amount of effort in recent years. Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team has prompted critical actions in attempt to prevent overdose deaths in Ohio. This includes the adopting laws that expand the access of naloxone (an opioid overdose reversal drug), strengthening the oversight of prescription drugs, requiring youth drug prevention curriculum in schools, developing guidelines for prescribing, closing pill mills, provisioning grant support and implementing tool-kits to local communities, investing for the integration of Ohio’s prescription drug monitoring program with electronic medical records and pharmacy systems across the state, and a focusing on public health and youth prevention campaigns.
Three departments within Ohio have been working together to address this issue. The Department of Public Safety of Ohio is the forefront of the 5 Minutes for Life educational campaign. Within this, ‘Ohio State Troopers, Ohio National Guard, or local law enforcement speak with student leaders about responsible decision-making and encouraging their peers to live a drug-free lifestyle.” The Department of Education has passed legislation which requires local school districts to cover the dangers of prescription opioid abuse within their health curriculum. This plays a fundamental role in Ohio’s Start Talking! Initiative, which gives parents and educators tips for talking to the youth about drugs. Lastly, Ohio’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services “leads the state’s Strategic Prevention Framework to guide communities in developing initiatives to reduce alcohol and drug abuse among teens and young adults.”
In addition to these action by the state government, there are many cases where young people directed prevention and education strategies throughout Ohio. Groups such as Prevention Action Alliance and Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network are youth-led groups that took initiative amidst the opioid crisis. Additionally, young leaders from the Ohio 4-H Healthy Living Program created the display, “What’s in your medicine cabinet?” to raise awareness about the misuse of opioids and prescription drugs.
The opioid crisis and the misuse of prescription drugs are prevalent throughout adolescents. According to the Health and Human Services, 3.6 percent of adolescents ages 12-17 reported misusing opioids in 2016 and the percentage for older young adults were twice as high.
This percentage has decrease over the last couple of years. According to the Monitoring the Future National Survey Results, 1975-2018, the misuse of pain medication, excluding heroin, decreased from a peak of 9.5 in 2004 to 3.4 percent in 2018 among grade 12 respondents. More specifically, the “past-year misuse of Vicodin decreased from a peak of 10.5 percent in 2003 to 1.7 percent in 2018 and Oxycontin misuse has decreased from the peak rate of 5.5 percent in 2005 to 2.3 percent in 2018.”
Additionally, this national survey showed that students in the 12th grade believe that opioids are harder to obtain than in the past. In 2010, 54 percent of 12th grade respondents believed that these drugs were easily attainable, as compared to only 32.5 percent in 2018.
It may seem that the situation in the opioid crisis is becoming under control. However, the student death rates from overdose are increasing. In 2015, 4,235 adolescents between the ages 15 to 24 died from a drug-related overdose and over half of these were derivable to opioids. In addition, a larger population face health consequences from the misuse of opioids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that for every young adult overdose death, “there are 119 emergency room visits and 22 treatment admissions.”
Check out this map that shows the years of potential life lost rate from years 2011 to 2013. The years of potential life lost rate, also known as premature mortality rate, measures the frequency in which people are dying. From the map we can see a pronounced cluster of states darkly shaded (Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia) indicating a large proportion of counties within these states had a high rate of premature deaths. In other words people who lived within these counties were dying at an early age. In contrast we can see counties within states such as, Maine, Road Island, Vermont are lightly shaded yellow/orange, indicating people who lived within these counties were dying at an older age.
I came across an interesting map that showed schools across the US that offered the National school Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program from 2014 to 2015. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for young learners, but for some students a good first meal of the day isn’t always attainable. This program makes sure that students can start their day off right with a good meal! Across the board from 2014-2015 the US did a pretty good job with participating in both programs, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Check to see how your area measured! Thanks frac.org for the interesting information & map! Take a look at the rest of the map by clicking here.