New Law Requires Ohio Schools to Teach Students About Painkiller Abuse

By Paul Gaita 01/14/15

Ohio has taken another step forward in treating their problem with teen drug addiction.

Teen Buying Pills

In addition to learning about nutrition, personal safety, and the dangers of alcohol and tobacco, Ohio school students will soon receive information and instruction about abusing prescription drugs as part of their regular curriculum.

The new guidelines are part of House Bill 367, which Governor John Kasich signed into law in December 2014. The bill requires the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team, which oversees prescription abuse and addiction issues for the state, to recommend and submit lessons on opioid abuse prevention, including heroin and prescription drugs, to the Ohio Department of Education by July 1, 2015.

The law and subsequent educational requirements are part of the Ohio State Government’s attempt to address the growing risk of heroin and opioid abuse among school students at even the youngest ages. While recent research has shown that marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes are down among eighth, tenth, and twelfth-graders, heroin and prescription drug use has remained stable among that demographic.

According to the Dayton Daily News, one in five high school students uses painkillers without a prescription, while half of young people who become addicted to heroin were also addicted to prescription painkillers. As Springfield City School's Superintendent David Estrop notes, “[The law] seems to be yet another step forward to try to make sure young people, in particular, understand that there are dangers [with these substances].”

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.