The teen epidemic of medicine abuse
Prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse has grown to epidemic levels in our country, and unfortunately it's rampant among teens. It's time for us all to wake up to medicine abuse and do something about it.
The Partnership at DrugFree.org is launching a week-long public awareness campaign — "Wake Up to Medicine Abuse." From September 23-30, 2012, the campaign will urge parents and the rest of the American public to take action against one of the biggest drug problems in our country today — medicine abuse.
Medicine abuse by the numbers
The death toll from prescription painkillers has tripled in the past decade. Emergency room visits, treatment admissions and overdose deaths from medicine abuse are all on the rise. According to the CDC, more Americans die from drug overdoses than in car accidents, and this increasing trend is driven by prescription painkiller overdoses. One person dies every 19 minutes from drug overdose in the U.S., and this increasing trend is driven by prescription pain killers.
"Opioid pain relievers are responsible for more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined."
The 2011 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, says that one in six teens has used a prescription drug (when a doctor had not prescribed it for them) in order to get high or change their mood, and most of these teenagers have gotten the drugs from family or friends. The CDC also reveals that opioid pain relievers are responsible for more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. And if the human toll weren't enough, medicine abuse is also an astronomical drain on the economy with related annual health care costs totaling $72.5 million.
It's time for a serious effort on the part of parents, educators, coaches, health care providers, government, law enforcement officials and everyone else to join together to help save lives by preventing teen medicine abuse.
The "Wake Up to Medicine Abuse" campaign
The campaign will encourage parents and the rest of the public to take action by talking with kids about the dangers of abusing prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as by safeguarding medications and making sure unused medicines are disposed of properly. In addition, the campaign calls on people to take a pledge at MedicineAbuseProject.org — the microsite developed by The Partnership at Drugfree.org. The pledge reads:
"As a [Parent/Grandparent | Health Care Provider | Community Leader | Educator], I pledge to learn about teen medicine abuse, to safeguard my medicines and to talk to the teens I know about this issue.”
The Medicine Abuse Project
The goal of the project is to prevent half a million teens from abusing medicine within five years. The only way that can happen is with widespread awareness and a concerted effort by parents, health care providers and everyone else around the country.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
The Drug Enforcement Administration has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day that will take place on Saturday, September 29, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is the fifth time for this national event. The event offers people who have accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs an opportunity to safely dispose of those medications. Find a National Take-Back Initiative Collection Site near you.
The Medicine Abuse Project website provides videos and stories of five teens whose lives were affected by their prescription drug abuse — two who died, two who went to rehab, and one who is forever physically challenged. People can also join the conversation about The Medicine Abuse Project and share personal stories on Twitter by using the hashtag #endmedicineabuse.
The Medicine Abuse Project site also contains a wealth of other information about the epidemic and the drugs, as well as tips on what you can do about it, news, event information and more. To learn more about the project, visit MedicineAbuseProject.org and also check out the Facebook page of The Partnership at Drugfree.org.
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