Educators from schools across the state, including northwest Ohio, gathered in Columbus Tuesday to learn more about how they can fight the state's epidemic of heroin abuse.
At the "Start Talking" anti-drug addiction program, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine stressed the role schools and educators can play in fighting the state's epidemic of heroin abuse.
Among those school districts represented at Tuesday's program were Anthony Wayne and Perrysburg schools.
Gov. Kasich calls the drug problem a poison threatening the essence of the culture, while DeWine says the state cannot solve the problem by law enforcement action alone.
"There are people in every community in this state who are struggling with addiction, some who became hooked while in high school," said Attorney General DeWine. "Those who attended today's summit know that their school districts are not immune to the problem of addiction, and they came out today to proactively work to prevent abuse and addiction among their students."
The program emphasizes the importance of parents, teachers and others talking to children about staying off drugs as a way of lessening the chances that they will become addicted.
The most recent state Health Department data show that a record number of Ohioans died of heroin-related overdoses in 2012.
Tuesday's conference included testimonials from Danielle Smoot and Heidi Riggs. Both women lost children to drug overdoses. 16-year-old Cole Smoot died after taking a prescription pill given to him by a friend in 2011. Riggs' daughter, 20-year-old Marin, died of a heroin overdose in 2012.
(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)