State representatives hold event on stopping drug abuse

First Posted: 7/23/2014

WAPAKONETA — State Reps. Tony Burkley and Jim Buchy gathered Wednesday for a discussion about how to help adults addicted to drugs and how to keep children from starting to use drugs.

Many companies have jobs that need filled, said Burkley, but have a difficult time finding people to hire for two reasons: those applying don’t have the necessary skills or those applying fail the drug test.

“West Central Ohio is the best place to live in the world,” Buchy said, which he said is because of the large number of nuclear families and the school districts. Buchy encouraged people to succeed here and to help future generations succeed as well.

To do this, Tracy Plouck, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, briefed attendees on Start Talking! and the programs available to begin conversations with children about drugs.

The four programs, “5 Minutes for Life,” “Building Youth Resiliency,” “Know!” and “Parents 360 Rx,” all provide different ways to prevent drug abuse. Start Talking! says that when children have conversations about substance abuse with parents or other adults, they are 50 percent less likely to begin using.

“We’re excited about this and we’re pleased that people are using the tools,” Plouck said.

Michael Schoenhofer, director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties, also spoke at the event to give information at the We Care At Work program, which helps businesses create a better drug policy.

While the program is for workplaces, Schoenhofer said that what the parents learn at work can be taken home and taught to their children, another way to start conversations with children about drug abuse.

“I’ve probably never been more hopeful about the fact that we have the means now not only to treat opiate addiction but to prevent it,” Schoenhofer said.

Businesses that Schoenhofer has talked to have said that their policy for drug use is so constricting that they could only fire someone who was caught using, which made some of the employers very upset, because they knew the person needed the job.

We Care At Work helps businesses rewrite their policies so that employers do not have to fire someone caught using. Instead, the person can go through different steps to stop using and potentially return to work.

Tammy Colon from Coleman Behavioral Health also spoke about the We Care At Work program. She discussed the levels of intervention available for people caught abusing drugs.

There are eight levels of intervention available, so people who do not need as intense intervention are not forced to go through that, according to Colon.

“We’re very hopeful with the new medication assisted treatment options that are available that we are able to help folks get back on the road to recovery,” Colon said.

Colon also pointed out the need for employees to feel safe to tell their employer about their addiction. The goal of the intervention is to get the person stable and get them back to work while they are still working through the intervention program.

It is not good for a person going through recovery to be sitting at home, not working. People want to be working, Colon said, because it gives them a sense of purpose.

“Hope is what’s going to allow people to develop the motivation they need in order to overcome their addiction,” Colon said.

We Care At Work will be holding an executive briefing from 7:45 to 9:30 a.m. Aug. 19 at St. Marys Community Public Library, located at 140 S. Chestnut St. in St. Marys.

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