[r63] Sign the pledge: End prescription drug abuse

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, October 3, 2014

Sign the pledge: End prescription drug abuse

Have you ever heard someone say that awareness is the first step towards prevention? I think many of us would agree that it is difficult to solve a problem without first knowing that it exists. Efforts to increase awareness can come in many forms and can be as wide-ranging as a statewide campaign or as small as a parent’s discussion with a child.

Having said that, think back to a time when you have spoken to your child about the dangers of drugs. What type of discussion comes to mind? Were you warning them of the dangers of cocaine, heroin or an inhalant, perhaps? More than likely, the answer to that question is yes. However, the truth is, these are not the only types of drugs threatening the well-being of our state.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic that is affecting people of all ages at an alarming rate. To put it into perspective, every 25 minutes, a fellow Hoosier dies from a prescription drug overdose. This is unacceptable.

In order to address it, the state participates in the national drug “take-back” day each year. On Saturday, Sept. 27, one such take-back day was held locally, with drop-off sites located at the state police post and the three fire stations in Jasper as well as two stations in Huntingburg. These sites netted more than 360 pounds of drugs, including 30 pounds of prescription drug bottles.

Not only does this get more drugs off the streets, but the pill bottles that were turned in will also be put to good use by local Catholic churches. The bottles will be recycled into park benches, and the tops will also be used for various recycling projects.

If we want to continue to bring awareness to this epidemic and decrease the number of overdoses, I believe it is imperative that we talk to our children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse just as much as we talk to them about illegal drugs. To help facilitate this, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has teamed up with the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force and the Indianapolis Colts to urge high school students to take an online pledge against abusing or sharing prescription drugs.

The school with the highest percentage of pledges will win a $5,000 award from the Colts, which will be presented by the organization during a pep rally held at the winning school. In addition, the winning school will be featured across Colts media and recognized as a proactive community leader in combating prescription drug abuse.

This is a conversation I intend to have with my children, and I hope that you will do the same. The fact that one in five Indiana teenagers has admitted to abusing prescription drugs is a troubling statistic. In order to reverse this trend, we must educate our young people and expel the false perception that these drugs are safe just because they are prescribed by a doctor.

When having these discussions, I highly encourage you to share this online pledge with them as well. This is one of those efforts that I want to see our local communities taking the lead on, and I would love to see one of our high schools recognized statewide for their commitment to a safer, healthier Indiana for all Hoosier students.