Forum targets drug use

Politicians, mental health professionals and chamber of commerce members gathered in the Performing Arts Center Wednesday morning to discuss Ohio’s new drug abuse prevention initiative and how it can help build a healthier workforce.

The “Start Talking!” initiative was launched by Gov. John Kasich and First Lady Karen Kasich in January to “give parents, guardians, educators and community leaders the tools to start the conversation with Ohio’s youth about the importance of living healthy, drug-free lives,” according to the “Start Talking!” website.

Tracy Plouck, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) and a member of Gov. Kasich’s cabinet, said Wednesday the initiative was started due to the governor’s concern about Ohio’s drug epidemic. The drug problem, Plouck said, has become so prevalent that employers have been approaching the governor with the concern that they can’t get people to pass drug screens and are therefore unable to hire the people they need.

“We don’t know exactly how prevalent it is in all types of trades or in different parts of the state, but it is very clear this is a concern for employers, and thus a concern for the governor,” Plouck said.

“Start Talking!” is a free and voluntary drug prevention effort that offers four programs meant to encourage conversations with young people about drugs.

For the full story, see the Thursday, July 24 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News.