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Monday, May 12th, 2014

Sheriff: Keeping kids from prescription medications could help stem drug abuse

Public program slated at Celina High School

By Margie Wuebker
CELINA - Keeping children from abusing prescription medications may help fight the local war on heroin, according to Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey.
Grey hopes to educate the public on the problem during a "Parents360 RX" public program at 7 p.m. May 19 in the Celina High School auditorium. The featured speaker is Tracy Plouch, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
The free event is designed to acquaint parents and other interested residents to the danger of unused prescription drugs.
"This is a community problem requiring community attention," Grey said. "Law enforcement officers here as well as across the state know there is a bridge between prescription drug abuse and heroin."
Drug problems many times begin with youths pilfering medication from parents and grandparents, Grey said. When access to such medication is no longer available they switch to heroin that can be easily purchased for as little as $20 to $30, he said.
"The only way to get a handle on the drug problem here is to get the entire community involved," the sheriff said. "This is truly a community problem and not just a problem for people whose lives have been touched by drugs."
Plouch will explain signs associated with drug abuse. Other presenters include a man who blames his drug problem on prescription painkillers he took for a back injury, a woman who has battled drug addiction and parents who lost their son to a drug overdose.
"People don't need to hear a lecture from me or a state official," Grey said. "They need to hear from people who have been affected by drugs and how they have been able to overcome the problem."
The sheriff initially heard about Parents360 Rx through the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association and felt area residents could use the information as well, he said. The program is now part of his office's three-pronged approach to battle the area's drug problem: enforcement, education and treatment.
Grey recently spoke with area school superintendents who may be interested in offering Parents360 Rx in their districts.
"The superintendents were very supportive of possibly offering such a program in their schools next year," Grey said. "They also realize that drug use begins long before high school graduation."
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