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Cedarville professor Dr. Mark Caleb Smith on a television newscast.

Governor's Office Seeks Help from School of Pharmacy

by Kathryn Sill and Ryan Bower, Public Relations

Substance abuse is a growing concern in the United States. That’s why Ohio Governor John Kasich has made it a priority to put in place programs that can slow it down in the Buckeye State.

The initiative “Start Talking!” is a youth drug prevention campaign created by the governor and First Lady Karen Kasich to prevent drug use before it ever starts. Based on national research, children are 50 percent less likely to use drugs when their parents or a trusted adult talks with them about drug use. 

This statewide initiative seeks to promote health by educating residents of the dangers of any form of substance abuse, including prescription drugs. Start Talking! includes free, bi-weekly email tips that include current information on substance abuse and action steps for talking with you about this subject. 

The Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is working with Cedarville University’s School of Pharmacy to create educational resources on drug abuse that can be shared in churches across the state. Presently, parents and other caring adults can sign up on the StartTalking.Ohio.Gov website to receive the parent tips.

“Drug Abuse is tearing apart families in neighborhoods across our state and we’re pleased that Cedarville University is a partner in our efforts to tackle this epidemic,” said Kim Hettel, director of faith-based and community initiatives. “Their eagerness to jumpstart conversations with Christian leaders and host Start Talking! programs will increase the probability that more young people can have a conversation about the dangers of drugs and fulfill their full potential.” 

Through this program, Cedarville’s School of Pharmacy will provide presentations, brochures and other literature in churches. 

Aleda Chen, Pharm.D., Ph.D., vice chair and assistant professor of pharmacy practice, and Thad Franz, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice and director of experiential programs, have collaborated with 21 professional pharmacy students, seeking ways to best communicate the value of being drug-free. 

“This is an incredible opportunity to engage the Christian community regarding an issue that impacts all of us and provide resources to prevent and reduce drug abuse,” Chen said.

“By creating educational resources with a biblical basis, we can provide a tremendous service to Ohioans” said Marc Sweeney, Pharm.D., dean of the school of pharmacy. “The biblically focused resources will help church leadership across the state can better educate their congregations on drug abuse.”

The Start Talking! program is just one of the ways Cedarville’s School of Pharmacy is helping to combat Ohio’s growing drug abuse problem. Students are also providing drug abuse education programs to elementary, middle and high school students throughout the Miami Valley, while also working with addiction support groups, drug-related ministries and court-ordered rehabilitation programs.

“This initiative pulls together two aspects for us that are very important,” Sweeney said. “First, it allows us to combine our faith and the field of pharmacy into one, but it also provides ways for our faculty and students to infuse biblical principles into a very serious problem. In the end, our hope is for substance abuse to be curtailed or eliminated.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,711 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit

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