​The Ohio Opioid Education Alliance (the Alliance) is a consortium of over 60 funders, corporations and public and private agencies committed to raising awareness about the opioid crisis.  The Osteopathic Heritage Foundations (the Foundations) joined the Alliance in 2018 and recently approved funding in support of the Don’t Live in Denial, Ohio awareness campaign, designed to engage parents and caregivers in preventing the use of opioids among youth. 

Ohio has one of the highest overdose death rates in the nation, largely driven by opioids.  This epidemic reaches all age groups, including youth.  It is estimated that more than 5,000 youth ages 12-17 in Franklin County have used prescription medication for non-medical use. 

In response, the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (ADAMH), as part of the Columbus and Franklin County Addiction Plan, formed the Alliance to help tackle the opioid crisis in the community.  To kick-start the work, the Nationwide Foundation provided $2 million in initial support.  A key component of the Alliance’s efforts is the Don’t Live in Denial, Ohio public service announcement (PSA) campaign.  The PSA, which was developed in collaboration with addiction experts and Ohio parents, is based on research indicating while most people are aware of the opioid crisis, they significantly underestimate the risk opioids can pose to their own children and family, leading them to overlook the importance of preventative measures.  

The setting for the media campaign is the fictional town of Denial, Ohio.  Residents reveal their beliefs that the opioid crisis won’t impact their children.  Viewers are urged to visit DontliveinDenial.org to learn how to discuss opioids with their children and how to properly dispose of or safeguard prescription drugs.  Research by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has found when parents and caregivers talk to youth about the dangers of drug use, their risk of abuse is cut in half.

The PSA campaign is expanding in central and southeastern Ohio, incorporating multiple media channels including television, radio, digital media and static images in highly trafficked areas.  In support of the Alliance and the Don’t Live in Denial, Ohio campaign, the Foundations recently approved a funding award of $25,000.

“The Foundations recognize the importance of increased prevention education and public awareness, as it relates to the opioid epidemic, and are proud to be a supporter of the Alliance.  We are grateful to the Nationwide Foundation and ADAMH for their leadership on this effort,” said Susan Beaudry, vice president.