What do you think is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States?
Huffing? No. Bath salts? No. Meth? Not that scourge either.
The correct answer: It is prescription drug abuse. That, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2007, approximately 27,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, one death every 19 minutes, said the CDC.
The increase in unintentional drug overdose death rates in recent years has been driven by increased use of a class of prescription drugs called opioid analgesics. In addition, for every unintentional overdose death related to an opioid analgesic, nine persons are admitted for substance abuse treatment, 35 visit emergency departments, 161 report drug abuse or dependence, and 461 report nonmedical uses of opioid analgesics.
The CDC said implementing strategies that target those persons at greatest risk will require strong coordination and collaboration at the federal, state, local, as well as engagement of parents, youth influencers, health-care professionals, and policy-makers.
North Carolina’s Attorney General, Roy Cooper, has come up with a clever idea to get our youth invested in educating all of us about the dangers of misusing and abusing prescription drugs. North Carolina high school students can help fight prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths by entering a video contest sponsored by Cooper and the NC Department of Justice.
Cooper has partnered with the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists, and the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse to sponsor a student video competition.
“Prescription drug abuse is a silent killer that’s on the rise, especially among young people,” Cooper said. “We need students to tell us the best message to fight this epidemic.”
Cooper is asking students to create public service announcement videos on the topic of teen prescription drug abuse. All students enrolled in grades nine through 12 in North Carolina are eligible to enter.
The intentional abuse of prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives to get high is a growing concern, particularly among teens. Among people ages 12-17, prescription drugs are now the second most abused drug, behind marijuana. Though overall teen drug use is down nationwide, there are troubling signs that teens view abusing prescription drugs as safer than illegal drugs.
“We need to get the word out that prescription drugs can be every bit as dangerous as street drugs when misused,” Cooper said. “Using technology and creativity, students can educate each other about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and hopefully prevent more tragic overdose deaths.”
The student video competition runs through April 20. More details including the contest application are available at ncdoj.gov. Information on the contest has also been sent to high school principals statewide.
The student whose video is judged to be the best will win an Apple iPad, and the runners-up will receive an iPod Touch and an iTunes gift card. The winning video will also be featured on the website for the NC Department of Justice.
To all you budding film makers out there, get busy and make your mark.