You won’t find it on any map, but the town of Denial is where most parents live, according to a clever advertising blitz by the non-profit Ohio Opioid Education Alliance (OOEA). Like the moms and dads in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon, who all believe their children are above average, all the parents in Denial are sure their kids will never be touched by opioid addiction.
If only. Ohio’s opioid crisis is among the worst in the U.S., with deaths from overdoses, averaging 12 per day in 2017. Research shows that kids whose parents talk to them about the dangers are 50% less likely to abuse painkillers or other drugs, yet a nationwide survey found that only 14% of teens have ever discussed the subject with their parents.
With that in mind, the Nationwide Foundation, the non-profit arm of the giant insurer, donated $2 million to kickstart OOEA’S public-awareness campaign. The ads, which urge parents not to live in Denial, now air on streaming channels such as YouTube and Hulu— and will appear later this year on TV, radio, and billboards. So far, Nationwide has helped the OOEA enlist 65 other Ohio businesses and nonprofits, who have donated another $4 million plus resources such as toll-free 800 help lines.
If you’d like to talk to your kids about drugs but just don’t know where to start check out the OOEA web site, which offers a free 13-page guide with specific suggestions of what to say when, for example, a child’s favorite celeb or sports star “goes into rehab for the third time.”