Monday, May 13 kicks of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Prevention Week. The three primary goals of National Prevention Week are to:
- Involve communities in raising awareness of substance use and mental health issues and in implementing prevention strategies and showcasing effectiveness of evidence-based prevention programs.
- Foster partnerships and collaborations with federal agencies and national organizations dedicated to improving public health.
- Promote and disseminate quality substance use prevention and mental health promotion resources and publications.
Partners for Prevention in Allegany County (PPAC) and the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (ACASA) are trying to meet all three of these goals by writing blogs on each topic of National Prevention Week to be posted every day. These blogs will provide educational information to the community and share resources to parents on how to educate their children about the dangers of misusing prescription pills and opioids; the use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or other illicit drugs, and suicide prevention.
Monday focuses on “Preventing Prescription and Opioid Drug Misuse” and according to National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data on youth and young adults, more than 5,700 youth in 2014 reported using prescription pain relievers without a doctor’s guidance for the first time. A common misperception is that prescription drugs are safer or less harmful to one’s body than other kinds of drugs. However, there is a range of short- and long-term health consequences for each type of prescription drug used inappropriately:
- Stimulants have side effects in common with cocaine, and may include paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, and an irregular heartbeat, especially if stimulants are taken in large doses or in ways other than swallowing a pill.
- Opioids, which act on the same parts of the brain as heroin, can cause drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and, depending on the amount taken, slowed breathing.
- Depressants can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, fatigue, disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures upon withdrawal from chronic use.
These impacts can be particularly harmful to a developing adolescent brain and body. Our brains continue to develop until we reach our early- to mid-twenties. As with any type of mind-altering drug, prescription drug misuse and abuse can affect judgment and inhibition, putting adolescents at heightened risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, misusing other kinds of drugs, and engaging in additional risky behaviors.
Here are several ways to minimize prescription drug misuse and abuse among young people:
- Education: One in four teenagers believe that prescription drugs can be used as a study aid and nearly one-third of parents say that they believe that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication can improve a child’s academic or testing performance, even if that child does not have ADHD. Parents, children, and prescribers must be educated on the impact of prescription drugs on the developing brain. For resources for parents on how to talk to their children about drug abuse visit the New York State’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services(OASAS) Talk2Prevent.
- Safe medication storage and disposal: Two-thirds of teens who misused pain relievers in the past year say that they got them from family and friends, including their home’s medicine cabinets, making it important to safeguard medicine in the home, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Safe storage and disposal of medications diminish opportunities for easy access. In Allegany County, ACASA, the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, and PPAC have partnered to provide 10 pill drop boxes throughout the county in the Take It To The Box Program. Community members can dispose of unwanted or unused medications in the boxes all year round. Please do not put liquids or “Sharps” in the boxes. The pill drop boxes can be found at:
- Alfred Pharmacy
- Alfred State’s University Campus Police
- Allegany County Sheriff’s Office in Belmont
- Cuba Police Department
- Fillmore Pharmacy
- Friendship Pharmacy
- Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville
- Jones Memorial Medical Practice in Bolivar
- Nicholson’s Pharmacy in Belmont
- Wellsville Police Department
- Prescription drug monitoring: Many people are calling on doctors and pharmacies to better monitor how (and how often) drugs are prescribed. In New York State prescribers are required to consult the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Registry when writing prescriptions for Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances. The PMP Registry provides practitioners with direct, secure access to view dispensed controlled substance prescription histories for their patients. The PMP is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week via an application on the Health Commerce System (HCS) at https://commerce.health.state.ny.us. Patient reports include all controlled substances that were dispensed in New York State and reported by the pharmacy/dispenser for the past year. This information allows practitioners to better evaluate their patients’ treatment with controlled substances and determine whether there may be abuse or non-medical use.
Through education, disposing of your unwanted or unused medications, and prescribers limiting the prescription of opioids, medications are not finding their way onto our streets or in the hands of our children.
Everyone can participate in National Prevention Week through the NPW Prevention Challenge.
WHAT IS ONE WORD THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOUR PREVENTION CHAMPION?
Inspiring. Friend. Truthful. Listener. Brave. Hero. Strong. Teacher. Gift. Survivor.
- Take a photo or video of your Prevention Champion.
- Include one word that best describes how your Prevention Champion inspires you to take action to live a healthier life and practice prevention every day.
- Share your photo or video on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Snapchat using the hashtags #PreventionChampion and #NPW2019 by May 2019.
We will add your post to the NPW Prevention Challenge digital mosaic and may feature it in a future NPW video.
Remember Prevention Works!