After announcing his campaign for governor on Sunday, Attorney General Mike DeWine took a trip around the state ending at ground zero of the opiate epidemic.
“We wanted to have an opportunity to really get up-to-date on what’s going on in Scioto County and surrounding counties in regards to the whole opiate problem,” DeWine commented.
DeWine explained that Scioto County has been dealing with the opiate problem much longer than the rest of the state and is ahead of the curve. As he visited communities across Ohio, DeWine said he noticed Scioto County has more treatment centers than other communities.
“There’s a lot more infrastructure here to help people that we find in other counties,” DeWine commented. “So, while we all continue to be upset about the opiate problem, at least in this part of the state, there is some help. There’s infrastructure in place that helps people who are addicted. Nothing is perfect. We understand that, but you are a lot further along that other counties in other parts of the State.”
DeWine fully recognized the decades of drug problems Scioto County as combated.
“One way of looking at it is that the epidemic here is more mature,” the candidate for governor stated. “It’s been going on longer.”
During his visit, the attorney general spoke with local treatment centers and clients. He stated the problem is not stabilizing, but it is increasing at a slower rate. However, the State has already had more overdose deaths in 2017 than it did in the entire year of 2016.
DeWine then discussed his pro-job/pro-education platform.
“I think the job of governor is to create a business climate at the state that is pro jobs and pro growth,” he stated. “You do that in a number of ways. I think you start with keeping taxes low and keeping regulations rational and reasonable. But the third thing is also very important, and that is educational training.”
DeWine used that statement as a transition into his K-12 drug prevention and drug education program, which he would implement if elected.
“When I’m governor, every school in the state will start in kindergarten and have a program kindergarten through 12th grade, every single year in regard to drug prevention and drug education. It has to be, of course, age appropriate. You’re not going to talk to kindergarten kids about heroin, but you’re going to talk about wellness. You’re going to talk about health. You’re going to talk about decision-making,” DeWine said. “There is strong evidence that if this is done consistently year after year the number of addicted started to depreciate.”
He added that though many schools have drug prevention programs, they are not K-12 programs. DeWine stressed that prevention is key. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) recently put out a booklet that helps schools start such programs.
“We put out a publication in the Attorney General’s Office three months ago,” DeWine said. “It’s not very long, 20-some pages, and it is based on work that was done by a committee that I put together. We asked that committee to look at the whole area of prevention and education. And, I have sent a copy of that book to every school superintendent in the state. We encourage schools to look at it. It’s really almost a starter kit that covers how to put together an effort in your school that is K-12.”
When asked about new solutions for addressing the current epidemic of already addicted and the massive overdoses, DeWine returned the focus to prevention.
“I think what’s important is when we talk about prevention and we talk about education, it not only has to be age appropriate, it has to be based on evidence that actually works. This is an area where there’s no room for or you can’t really tolerate amateurs doing it,” he stated before addressing the currently addicted and dying. “Once they’re addicted, yes, there is still hope. People become clean every single day, but it’s tough. It’s tough for them. It’s tough for society. And, many times, when people are clean, it’s on the fifth time or sixth time or seventh time.
The AG announced his run for Govenor Sunday during the annual DeWine Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Social in his home of Cederville. DeWine’s road trip, which lasted three days, started Monday. Scioto County was among the last stops along the trip.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.