Health Groups Plan Greater Drug Intervention For Youth

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UPDATED: Wednesday June 18, 2014 5:53 PM

Ohio health officials today announced a plan that involves more drug screening before a young person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.

But not all students are convinced it will work.

"You see histories of drug use across all kinds of races and incomes," said Lainie Rini.  "The good and bad question about whether we should be doing more drug screening depends on the ramifications."

Rini and her friend Henry Peller have worked with at risk youth at The Ohio State University.

Both are concerned about increasing drug screenings through guidance counselors or other adult school officials.

"I see having to sit with the counselor and talk about hard decisions," said Peller.  "It just depends on what the consequences are of screening."

The consequences of not trying to intervene is what Ohio health experts say they're trying to avoid.

"We're looking to identifying kids who are at high risk," said Sarah Bielhl of the Children's Defense Fund Ohio.

Biehl says screening isn't about making accusations - if the questions are asked properly.

"Rather than ask do you use marijuana it could be something as simple as have you ever been to a party where marijuana is used," said Biehl.

UHCAN announced today that Ohio is one of five states receiving grant money to help young people age 15 to 22 avoid drug misuse.

Michael Langford, CEO of the Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program of Cincinnati, says drug screening is especially important for African American students, citing a recent study that says they are four times more likely to report trying marijuana.

"There's no magic bullet there's no magic peel," said Langford.  "We're looking at historical factors and the present.  We put those things together and come up with a plan of action."

Rini says the experts should focus less on the individual during screening and more on their circumstances.

"Their family, their school pressure, what other activities are there to do in their communities besides just engage in drugs," said Rini.

Consumer health groups say this will be a three year effort - all of it aimed at preventing addiction through early intervention.

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