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Misuse Prevention

It is important to discuss the serious public health problem of alcohol and prescription drug misuse with your family and friends.

Alcohol Misuse

Abusing alcohol can lead to serious health problems. In 2013, 24.6 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 6.8 percent reported that they engaged in heavy drinking in the past month (NIAAA). Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with ordination. Drinking a lot of alcohol over time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, the liver, and the pancreas. Drinking too much also can weaken your immune system and slows your body’s ability to ward off infections.

It is important to discuss healthy ways to drink and promote accurate norms around drinking. Here are some guidelines for how you can talk to others about using alcohol in moderation.

  • Moderate alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects on health including decreased risk for heart disease and mortality due to heart disease but these benefits are not the same for everyone.
  • The perception that everyone drinks especially on a college campus are not accurate. Students grossly exaggerate the use of alcohol and other drugs by their peers. A recent survey found that University of Oregon students believed 96 percent of their peers drink alcohol at least once a week, when the actual rate was 52 percent (College Parents of America). Confronting misperceptions about alcohol use is vital.
  • Model low risk alcohol use by:
    • knowing what a standard drink is
    • starting with non-alcoholic drinks and alternate with alcoholic drinks
    • drinking slowly
    • eating before or while you are drinking
    • never drinking and driving
    • being a responsible host
    • being comfortable saying no thanks

Rx Medication Misuse

The misuse of prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Adderall, Ritalin, Xanax, and Valium exceeds that for all illicit “street” drugs combined except marijuana. And the number of Americans first misusing a prescription drug far exceeds the number first using marijuana (SAMHSA). Emergency department visits, hospitalizations, drug treatment admissions, and deaths relating to prescription drug misuse are escalating. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. (CDC).

It is important to discuss this serious public health problem with your family and friends. Here are some guidelines for how you can help prevent this problem from hurting those around you:

  • Model safe medication-taking practices. Never use prescription medications that aren’t prescribed for you, and do not share your prescription medications with others. Only use medications as directed by your healthcare professional.
  • Store medications securely. Most people who misuse prescription drugs get them from family members or friends (often from the medicine cabinet).
  • Properly dispose of medications when they are no longer needed.
  • Download our handouts at Generation Rx – Preventing the Misuse of Prescription Medications

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