Experts say early intervention could curb drug epidemic

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Talking to your kids about drugs, isn’t always easy, but with Dayton at the forefront of the nation’s opioid crisis, experts say having that tough conversation should be a priority.

Lindsay Williamson said she’s already started talking to her six year old son about addiction.

“I think the kids understand more than we give them credit for, sometimes,” she said.

Things like fentanyl and heroin might be foreign ideas for younger kids, but Williamson said she’s broached the subject by talking about smoking.

“When we tell him that you take this, there’s receptors in your body that become active and from there on out, think that they need that,” Williamson said. “Just like your lungs need oxygen. And he kind of gets that – he understands that.”

Dayton is now one of four cities where the federal Drug Enforcement Agency is introducing a new 360 program to tackle the drug crisis from all angles.

Resident agent in charge, Steven Miller says targeting youth is key.

“If you can get to someone before they’re in a crisis mode or before they had to make those hard decisions and unfortunately sometimes before they make the wrong decision, then we can influence the children and hopefully get them on a path to where they can avoid this opioid addiction crisis that we’re facing,” Miller said.

The DEA is working alongside Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services.

Andrea Hoff leads the county’s early intervention division.

She said: “We could literally prevent so much of the need for things like treatment and recovery services. We could prevent people from getting lifelong illnesses and all of the damaging effects it has on their lives, by just teaching people at a younger age how to not go down that path.”

The county starts its intervention programs as early as kindergarten.

Christina Lambert, a mother of two young children, said she understands why.

“It’s a little bit scary to think about what they’re going to be exposed to and how early they probably will be exposed to it,” Lambert said. “So I know as early as elementary school you got to start pointing out to them what drugs are and who to watch out for people that might be offering them things.”

The county has a list of tips on how to approach the subject with your kids. Talking often and beginning the conversation early are two key points.

The county say if you suspect your child is using drugs or alcohol, get help. You can contact Samaritan CrisisCare at 937-224-4646 for help.

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