By Kim Blake (@kimkblake)
They say that being a parent is like having your heart walk around outside your body. Children are so vulnerable, and nervous parents like me (who check in on their 2-year-old at night to make sure that he is still breathing!) worry about everything. Safety, bullying, smoking, drinking – the list goes on.
Medicine abuse was never on my radar. In June, CRT/tanaka began working with The Partnership at Drugfree.org on a new campaign to help reduce teen medicine abuse. At our first meeting, we watched a powerful video that I just couldn’t shake out of my mind. (note: this is an 11-minute video, well worth watching, but you can view the individual stories of Aaron, Chelsea and Ronnie in :90 clips).
As part of the team, my eyes opened wide at the statistics:
- 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 have gotten it from family or friends. (2011 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation)
- More Americans die from drug overdoses than in car crashes, and this increasing trend is driven by prescription painkiller overdoses. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Prescription medicines are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12 to 13 year olds. (National Survey on Drug Use and Health)
I’m not alone in my ignorance. New research by The Partnership at Drugfree.org revealed that the issue of teen medicine abuse is more widespread than parents think. Only six percent of parents of teens believe their child has abused medicine, when in fact one in 10 teens (10 percent) admit they misused/abused medicines in the past six months. Although roughly one in five teens and parents (19 percent and 22 percent respectively) say they know someone who has died due to medicine abuse, parents rank medicine abuse only 13th among the list of greatest concerns for teens, below both alcohol and illegal drug use.
Together with The Partnership at Drugfree.org, CRT/tanaka helped create The Medicine Abuse Project, a campaign with a goal of preventing half a million teens from abusing medicine within five years. Launching during the week of September 23 – 29, 2012, The Medicine Abuse Project is a multi-year effort to help educate parents, teens and the public about the dangers of medicine abuse and unite parents, educators, health care providers, coaches, government officials, law enforcement officers and other partners to help save lives.
During the launch week, the campaign will engage stakeholders through a series of events:
- The Medicine Abuse Project LIVE: iVillage Twitter chat
- The Medicine Abuse Project LIVE: Grand Central Exhibit, New York City
- The Medicine Abuse Project LIVE: “Hope For Recovery” Webinar
- The Medicine Abuse Project LIVE: Meet The Parents Hour with Model Amber Smith
- Drug Enforcement Administration-Facilitated National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
How can you join The Medicine Abuse Project? Take the Pledge to learn about teen medicine abuse, to safeguard your medicines and to talk to the teens you know about this issue. Find a DEA-sponsored Take-Back Day near you and dispose of your unused medications on Saturday, September 29th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Finally, join the global conversation and share your story by liking The Partnership at Drugfree.org on Facebook, following @MedicineAbuse on Twitter and using the hashtag #endmedicineabuse.
Whether or not you are a parent, chances are that you know a teen. Talk to them about the dangers of medicine abuse. Don’t miss out on your chance to make a critical impact in the life of someone that you care about.