Dr. Kenneth M. Hale, Associate Director, Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery
The misuse of prescription drugs is one of our country’s most pressing public health problems, with drug overdose being our leading cause of accidental death. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (SAMHSA) has revealed that more than 5,500 Americans misuse a prescription medication for the first time every day, and the average age for this initiation falls within the traditional college years. This phenomenon results in myriad social, physical, academic, financial and legal problems for our students. For example, emergency department visits resulting from prescription drug misuse now exceed those resulting from the use of illicit “street” drugs (SAMHSA, Drug Abuse Warning Network), and drug addiction treatment admissions due to substance use disorders relating to medications have escalated dramatically. And did you know that the majority of heroin users first misused an opioid pain medication? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one in 15 people who misuse these medications will try heroin within the subsequent 10 years.
So, the Higher Education Center will feature programming and media related to prescription drug misuse throughout the month of October, National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Other relevant national events this month include NOPE Task Force Candle Light Vigils on October 29th, and Red Ribbon Week (National Family Partnership, October 23-31).
(National Family Partnership)
We hope that you will engage in the following programs through the Higher Education Center designed to enhance your understanding of the collegiate ramifications of this serious public health problem:
- Polling questions launched to gather your thoughts on important aspects relating to the misuse of prescription drugs among college students – October 2, 9, 16, 23
- Blog post by Dr. Molly Downing, “Prescription Drug Misuse Among High School Students: A Part of the Baggage that Students Bring to the College Experience” – October 9
- Blog post by Dr. Joshua Hersh, “Using Minimum Misuse/Maximum Care to Decrease Prescription Drug Misuse on Campus” – October 14
- Podcast featuring Dr. Anne McDaniel, “Results from the 2015 College Prescription Drug Study” – October 16
- Blog Post by Ms. Cindy Clouner, “Applying the Strategic Prevention Framework and Environmental Prevention Strategies to Prescription Drug Misuse on College Campuses” – October 21
- Featured Webinar with Dr. Lane Wallace, “The Pharmacology of Commonly Misused Prescription Drugs” – October 26, 2:00pm EST (register here)
- Podcast featuring Michael Barnes, Esq., “The 2015 National Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Strategy, Center for Legal Access and Abuse Deterrence” – October 28
In addition, look for research briefs in the weekly UReport (sign up here) relating to prescription drug misuse and its prevention. I encourage you to use these opportunities to learn more about this issue. Young adults are vulnerable to misusing prescription drugs, with potentially deadly consequences. We can make a difference by raising awareness and creating a campus environment for the safe use of medications. We also invite you to utilize the free resources at GenerationRx.org to educate students about “Safe Medication Practices for Life.”