Farm Bureau is working with state and local agencies to help address the drug epidemic, using its grassroots connections to help stimulate prevention initiatives across Ohio.
It’s one step in a critical war to help stem the rising tide of opioid addiction, which is affecting all facets of both rural and urban communities.
“This wasn’t even on my radar in early January,” said Dr. Theresa M. Ferrari, associate professor, 4-H youth development specialist with OSU Extension on the opioid epidemic. “Now it keeps me up at night.”
Ferrari recently addressed Ohio Farm Bureau’s policy development committee on the ongoing partnership efforts between 4-H and Prevention Action Alliance to work on prevention initiatives to combat the ongoing drug epidemic.
The opioid crisis is an issue that has come up at several county Farm Bureau policy development meetings across the state in recent years, and the epidemic became a priority issue for Farm Bureau last year.
Since that time, several county Farm Bureaus have participated in a number of activities centering on youth and prevention, as well as overall community health.
“Guernsey County started the conversation with the first meeting over a year ago in the municipal court building with standing room only,” said OFBF Organization Director Betsy Anderson. “They have formed a countywide group called CHOICES that meets regularly in the county drawing in every entity that has involvement (in fighting the drug epidemic).”
The county is also distributing to area senior citizen locations and rehabilitation facilities drug disposal bags made to destroy leftover prescription drugs. Disposing of leftover prescription pain medication is a focus for Ferrari as well. During 4-H’s National Youth Summit on Healthy Living earlier this year, high school students came up with the idea of the “What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet?” campaign. This focus was selected because easy availability and misuse of prescription drugs is one of the contributing factors to the current opioid epidemic.
Farm Bureau continues to find avenues, through its grassroots connections, to help support these drug abuse prevention initiatives throughout the state.
Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau has been actively involved in the county’s anti-drug coalition and its ongoing initiatives, such as Hidden in Plain Sight training and the Got Your Back campaign, which was also a theme at the Harrison, Carroll and Jefferson county fairs. Monroe County Farm Bureau was a sponsor of a mental health first aid training workshop. The epidemic has also been a main topic at several county Farm Bureau annual meetings this year.
An ongoing survey created by Ohio Farm Bureau regarding the crisis continues to show the many ways the epidemic is affecting families, farms and communities.