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UHCAN Ohio Testifies on Youth Drug and Alcohol Prevention

With Labor Day behind us, Representative Stephen Huffman, Chair (R Tipp City) and other members of the Ohio House Healthcare Efficiencies Study Committee traveled to Portsmouth on September 8to take testimony on how Ohio’s Behavioral Healthcare system could become more efficient. Kathleen Gmeiner testified as UHCAN Ohio’s Project Director of the Somebody Finally Asked Me! campaign.

She pointed out the high costs that result from the abuse of alcohol and drugs and the benefits that would be achieved if Ohio had a more effective program to intervene with young people who are experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Prevention efforts would help to avoid the costs that arise from risky use (vehicle accidents, etc.), the long term costs of treatment, and other health costs associated with addiction. 

Kathleen noted that a 2011 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) found that 90% of adults who are addicted to tobacco, alcohol, or other substances started using before age 18 and that “one-quarter of Americans who began using any addictive substance before age 18 are addicted, compared with one in 25 Americans who started using an addictive substance when they were 21 or older.” “In other words, we can reduce addiction if we can push back the age at which people begin to use substances,” she said.

Kathleen explained SBIRT and its successful initiation in Norwood City Schools in 2014-15 and made these three asks of the committee:

  • Create a study committee on youth drug use to examine in depth the causes, remedies, and preventive and intervention methods that are effective in curtailing youth drug and alcohol use. This was recently done in the State of Georgia.
  • Pass a resolution supporting SBIRT as a positive evidence-based tool in its efforts to combat risky drug and alcohol use and urge all school districts to examine how the tool could be effective in their district.
  • Appropriate funding to support the training of school professionals to administer SBIRT in middle and high schools.

The Somebody Finally Asked Me! campaign will be following up with Representative Huffman to pursue the study committee and legislative support for SBIRT in schools and other youth venues. A copy of the Campaign’s written testimony can be found here.

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