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New Opioid Ad Campaign Urges Parents: 'Don't Live In Denial'

Ohio Opioid Education Alliance
"Welcome to Denial, OH" ad

The Franklin County Opiate Action Plan announced a multi-million dollar effort to prevent youth drug abuse through awareness today. Dubbed the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance, it’s launched an ad campaign urging parents to not live in the fictional city of "Denial, Ohio."

In the ad, a variety of parents blithely express a lack of concern over the possibility their children use drugs: “All the families in Denial, they feel the same as we do. Opioids? Not in Denial. It doesn’t happen here.”

The ads launch this week and continue through 2019.

Jonathan Wylly, CFO of the Alcohol, Drug And Mental Health Board of Franklin County, says this effort differs from other parts of the county's plan in its focus on youth and prevention.

"Think of this as a vaccination for the next generation," Wily says. "If you could come up with a vaccination that prevented a disease and you could give that to your kids for the future, who wouldn't want to develop that?"

The campaign has a budget of $2 million and has two main takeaways for parents: talk to your kids and control how many opioids they come in contact with.


"You really have to involve conversations, bring it up, be consistent, and be aware of what your kid's behaviors are, who they're hanging out with," Wylly says.

Wily says parents should be aware of what opioid prescriptions their kids are receiving, whether for dental procedures or sports injuries, and make sure they're following directions and properly disposing of the drugs.

He says the campaign is also concerned about the stigma of opioid addiction. 

"When the community at large starts thinking about mental health and addiction diseases as just that, diseases, and not a behavior, it's not a choice, then I think you're going to see much more acceptance to the prevention and treatment efforts in the community," Wylly says.

The alliance also includes community partners and businesses like the Columbus Foundation, Columbus Metropolitan Libraries, Ohio Health, Ohio State University, Columbus State University, and White Castle.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.