In July 2012, LEAD was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation to fund the newly developed Prescription Drug Abuse, Misuse, and Prevention Campaign. The abuse and misuse of prescription drugs is a significant issue in our service area. Consider the following data:
- 19.3% of local 8th – 12th graders reported that they had misused prescription and/or over-the-counter medications in the previous 12 months. This is an increase from 15.9% in 2008. Depression, stress, anxiety, and suicide are all prevalent issues in our community. These local conditions have contributed to the increase in prescription drug abuse by youth. * Data collected from the 2010 Illinois Youth Survey.
- In September 2011, a Youth Summit was conducted with 89 randomly selected high school student participants. The number one issue raised was the excessive stress and pressure to be perfect that exists among youth in our community. Additionally, 18.1% of 8th – 12th graders reported that they were depressed and 10% of 9th – 12th graders had reported that they had contemplated suicide in the past year.
- Reported rates of prescription and/or over-the-counter drug abuse in the previous year were substantially higher for these students than those not reporting being depressed or contemplating suicide. (33% vs. 16% for those reporting being sad or hopeless and 46% vs. 18% for those seriously considering suicide).
- Through teen focus groups and key informant interviews (law enforcement, substance abuse treatment providers, social workers), we know that teens use prescription medication as currency, trading them for their drug of choice or selling them for cash. Popular drugs abused include ADD/ADHD medications, pain killers, anti-anxiety drugs, and the like.
1. Youth Initiative
A significant portion of our program activities for the coming year will be focused on youth training. Our youth training model will include the following:
- Send 8 teens and 2 adults to the Y2Y Summer Conference in Smithfield, RI in July. Youth workers in our community will then mentor these students throughout the year so that they will have the tools and resources available to serve as peer-to-peer mentors in their schools. Our student mentors will mentor students in 12 elementary, middle, and high schools in our community.
- Train and empower students to contribute to prevention efforts by making presentations to local rotary clubs, businesses, congregations, parent teacher associations, schools, and city council meetings. If you are a member of one of these organizations and would like one of our student leaders to make a presentation to your group, please contact us to schedule.
- Facilitate the Second Annual Youth Summit, co-sponsored by Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. The Youth Summit takes place every fall with nearly 100 middle school students participating.
- Engage youth in the creation and development of a social norms marketing strategy.
- Engage college students in prevention efforts on our local college campuses.Our community has approximately 3,750 students in grades 6 through 12 and approximately 1,400 college students. Our goal is to reach about 30% of this total population through this initiative, making our total reach 1,125 students in grades 6 through 12 and 420 college students.
- Over the past 2 years (2012 – 2014), usage rates have gone down by more than 20% and now barely 1.5% of students in grades 6-12 are abusing prescription medication. What our community is doing, is working!
2. Social Media / Podcasts / PSA’s
As the use of social media continues to increase exponentially, we must explore how to incorporate these tools into our prevention work. Social media is fundamentally interactive which means prevention professionals and coalitions must enter into a conversation rather than a declaration. How that conversation goes has great preventative power. We must put out inquiries that allow us to listen to responses with some real intent to understand the culture. Our efforts will add another voice into the conversations about substance use which can have an impact on the culture itself. By being in the conversation, we change the conversation. We plan to engage in the conversation in the following ways:
- Rolling out a Facebook and Twitter Strategy – We plan to quadruple (at least) our base of followers in the coming calendar year so that we can enter into conversation on the topic of prescription drug abuse and misuse.
- Produce a Speak Up! Podcast to help Spread the Word – A quick search of current mainstream podcasts, using keywords such as drug prevention or drug use, will not yield a result more recent than 2009. In short, there is not an easy-to-find podcast with fresh content in this subject area. We plan to produce a podcast, including weekly delivery of content, that will a) increase awareness of the prescription drug abuse issues, b) increase knowledge of how to reduce access to prescription drugs, c) educate our community on the consequences/dangers of misusing our abusing prescription drugs, and d) encourage and empower people in our community to spread the word (or Speak Up) on the prescription drug abuse issue.
- Create a Series of Local Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) – Using local celebrities and professionals, we plan to create a series of interactive and inexpensive PSA’s on the prescription drug abuse issue. These short PSA’s will be delivered via social media, local cable television, and other media outlets and will highlight the dangers and consequences of prescription drug abuse, as well as what can be done about it. Our goal is that our social media efforts will reach one-third of our community population, totaling more than 10,000 community members.
3. Collaboration with Physicians / Pharmacists
We plan to collaborate with local physicians and pharmacists to assist in our efforts to raise awareness about the prescription drug abuse issue. Our plan includes the following:
- Tailor Generation Rx Informational Material for Local Use. These materials will contain the staggering local and national statistics on prescription drug abuse in our community. We would ask pediatricians, oral surgeons, and orthopedic surgeons to give their patients (and patients’ parents) these materials anytime a prescription is given. The materials would not only include statistics, but would also give practical suggestions about how they can become part of the prevention effort, such as keeping drugs secure and disposing of any unused medications.
- Encourage pediatricians to have conversations with parents about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Pediatricians talk to parents about the overall wellbeing of their children, including everything from bicycle helmets to car seats to diet. We plan to have the issue of prescription drug abuse become a part of that conversation.
- Partner with The College of Pharmacy at Rosalind Franklin University. Rosalind Franklin University (RFU) has offered to have their experts make short presentations to community groups, or the community at-large, to prevent prescription drug abuse through awareness, knowledge, and speaking up! These presentations would be made to both teens and adults in various settings. Additionally, RFU has relationships with big-chain pharmacies and will assist as appropriate with the establishment of prevention initiatives in our own community.
- Hospital Collaboration. Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, located within our city limits, is both a major funder and a member of our Speak Up! coalition. We plan to use the hospital to distribute materials and to help us partner with physicians, pharmacists, and medical offices. There are approximately 600 physicians and 300 nurses affiliated with the hospital. Our goal for the coming year is to reach 20% of these medical professionals, for a total reach of 180.
4. Medicine Disposal
Through collaboration and partnership with our local police departments, we will conduct several onsite medicine disposal days at various locations around our community to supplement our existing permanent collection program. These collections, overseen by a uniformed police officer, will take place at senior centers, local churches, and other large community events. We will publicize these drug collection dates through our various communications networks and channels, and will include this in our overall social media strategy outlined above.
Since the fall of 2010, we have successfully administered drug collection activities in our local community. Through our Think Inside the Box collection program, we have collected nearly 600 pounds of drugs. We plan to further publicize the Think Inside the Box program with ads in local newspapers, in local news media, and on local cable access channels. Our goal is to increase our collection by 30% in the next year.
5. Senior Citizens and Caregivers
Research has shown that prescription drug use and misuse education for our senior and caregiver population is essential. Our plan is to present safe prescription medicine use information as well as proper securing and disposing of prescription medication practices at Senior Living and Assisted Living residences. We will provide presentations and interactive activities to educate and raise awareness.
Planned activities with outreach to approximately 200 seniors:
- Partners In Health Senior Lectures Series in cooperation with Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital performed quarterly.
- Senior Center Education Activities – Dickenson Hall Senior Gatherings and Lake Forest Library Interactive Play series
- Monthly Newsletters, PR/Media Campaigns and Community Letters.
6. Hit the Road!
LEAD’s highly successful 3D Community Prescription Drug Prevention program has been conducted in numerous locations around the country, and has helped hundreds of coalition leaders, preventionists, youth workers, law enforcement professionals, doctors, pharmacists and more to combat this issue. Click here to learn more about our 3D program to to find out where we’re headed next!
7. Community Collaboration
LEAD is a partner and leader on the Lake County Opioid Initiative, which is a team of people (coalitions and individuals) from all over the county who combine efforts and work together on opioid prevention initiatives.
Do you have comments or suggestions regarding our plans to respond to the prescription drug abuse issue in our community? Contact us today to join our efforts!