Coalition forum addresses drug abuse in Union County
Marysville High School Principal Matt Chrispin has seen what drugs can do to teenagers.
"You look at our discipline data and it mirrors the prescription drug trends. When we catch kids it's usually prescription meds," he said.
Chrispin was among community leaders and residents who attended a forum with the Union County Drug Free Coalition called "It's time to talk ... about Drugs in Union County."
Aaron Haslam, senior Assistant Attorney General, with Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine's office, was the keynote speaker at the Aug. 27 event.
He spoke of his experience as a former prosecutor in Adams County and his fight against the prescription drug problem.
The key to fighting the problem there was not in law enforcement, he said.
"We solved the pill problem by bringing the community together,"Haslam said.
That is why the Drug Free Coalition invited residents to hear the results of a 2012 youth risk behavior survey.
The Council for Union County Families also conducted the survey of students in the Marysville, Fairbanks, and North Union Local school districts in 2009 and 2010. The last two surveys included 1,518 students in grades seven, nine and 11.
Brenda Rock, a member of the Drug Free Coalition, presented the results, which showed alcohol as the most widely used drug among high school students in Union County.
The study found 4.3 percent of respondents reported using prescription drugs to get high. Of those, 1.8 percent were seventh-graders, 5.8 percent were ninth-graders and 5.1 percent were 11th-graders.
Chrispin said officials try to stay aware of what young people are doing at the high school.
"We've had less than 20 incidents at the high school where we caught kids," he said. "The word on the street is, 'don't take it to school.' We catch kids."
If the staff at the high school hears something about drugs, he said they will investigate it.
"No matter how big or small the rumor is, we're going to investigate it," Chrispin said. "If we don't find anything we're still going to call parents and say 'this is what came to us. We don't know why it's being said but you're kid is being talked about with narcotics, drugs, and alcohol.'"
Union County Common Pleas Court Judge Dan Fraser sat on the panel at the event and pointed out the importance of community involvement.
"We aren't going to solve this problem if we don't all get in the game," he said.
Circle of Support co-founder Kim Heminger said after she realized her son was an addict, she knew she had to do something.
"Things will never change if we don't take a stand. We have to take our blinders off," Heminger said.