Drug Abuse Awareness Campaign kicks off

LAKE COUNTY - As misuse of prescription drugs continues to be a troubling trend throughout Michigan and the nation, with the support of the Michigan Department of Community Health, a northern Michigan agency, is launching a public awareness campaign to help stem the problem.

The project is an initiative of the Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Services, in partnership with a network of local services providers, including District Health Department 10.

The comprehensive campaign includes advertising and public relations efforts aimed at young adults, adolescents and parents in 30 counties in northern and central Michigan. The primary message is that misuse of prescription drugs is a very real, dangerous and growing problem in northern and central Michigan communities.

“Mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers are the ones that the young steal from to abuse. Many older people sell half the prescription to supplement their income,” said Dr. James Wilson, MPH, Medical Director of District Health Department 10.

Abuse of prescription drugs to get high has become increasingly prevalent among teens and young adults. Abuse of prescription painkillers now ranks second—only behind marijuana—as the nation’s most prevalent illegal drug problem.

In northern and central Michigan, the problem is acute:

  • Since 2000, more than 550 overdose and drug poisoning deaths have been recorded in northern and central Michigan. The majority of these deaths are related to prescription drugs. (Source: Michigan Department of Community Health)
  • NMSAS treatments for methadone and other illicitly used prescription opiates have risen from approximately 500 in 2003 to more than 1,500 in 2010. (Source: Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Services)
  • In 2009, more than 1000 people were treated at hospitals for prescription drug overdoses in the NMSAS service area (Source: Michigan Hospital Association).

NMSAS hopes to educate the public about these key factors through television advertising, media releases, social media, outreach and other communications. Information is being distributed directly to schools, physicians and pharmacists in the targeted counties.

More information and resources about prescription drug abuse is available at www.drugfreenorthernmichigan.com.

Preventing Rx Drug Abuse

While the extent of Rx drug abuse is staggering, there is good news: People can make a difference in reducing the problem, especially parents. The following tips are offered:

  • Safeguard all drugs at home. Store drugs in a secure location. Monitor quantities and control access. Take note of how many pills are in a bottle or pill packet, and keep track of refills.
  • Set clear rules for teens about drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider’s advice and dosages.
  • Be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medicines.
  • Properly dispose of old or unused drugs. Yellow Jug Old Drug Program partners with pharmacies in communities to collect unused or unwanted drugs. Take advantage of local collection programs.
  • Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well.
  • Talk to teens and young adults about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These are powerful drugs that, when abused, can be just as dangerous as street drugs.