A WAKE UP CALL ON PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE TARGETS U.S. TEENAGERS
The Pain Truth Launches Powerful Educational Program Empowering Young People to Make the Right Decisions for Their Bodies and Brains
San Diego, CA (September 25, 2012) /PRNewswire/ — More than one-third of prescription drug abusers in the U.S. are between the ages of 12-17. Prevention of adolescent drug use has never been more important. In response to this alarming trend, WAKE UP! (www.WakeUpNow.org) was formed as a community education campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of abusing prescription drugs and to prevent first time use by teens. Statistics now show that 95% of those with lifetime dependence to alcohol and drugs started using the substances as adolescents.
The WAKE UP! Program, created by The Pain Truth, a 501©3 charitable organization, began two years ago as a grassroots effort to arm young people with the knowledge to make better decisions when confronted with opportunities to abuse prescription drugs. The overwhelming positive reception by students and surrounding communities to the pilot program, which began in Florida, led to a coast-to-coast launch taking place this month in California, and Florida. The campaign is provided at no cost to schools or communities.
The WAKE UP! campaign enlisted the help of a nationwide millennial generation advisory board, as well as local CORE teams at each school to assist with planning and execution. The program deploys a “takeover” approach by providing a massive on-campus presence utilizing graphics, multi-media, curriculum, social media, creative expression contests, and interactive events. WAKE UP! uses scientific facts to demonstrate the permanent biological changes that can occur in the brain and body with prescription drug abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies continue to demonstrate that the majority of teens and parents still believe that recreational use of prescription drugs is “safe” because a doctor prescribes the drugs. Although headquartered at high schools, WAKE UP! incorporates community involvement through the use of local media, physician education initiatives, and a town hall meeting. National participation is encouraged through social media and the WAKE UP! website.
The American College of Preventative Medicine reports that substance use before the age of 18 is associated with an eight-fold likelihood of developing substance dependence in adulthood. “A person’s brain is developing until the age of 24, making teens extremely vulnerable. Even experimenting with pills can alter the brain and lead to a life-long addiction,” said WAKE UP! Medical Director and Pain Management Physician, Lora Brown, M.D. “What is really frightening, is that there is no cure for addiction.”
“Misuse and abuse of prescription drugs knows no boundaries and requires a comprehensive response that engages all elements and influencers of a teenager’s life,” said Paul Barsky, Head of Upper School at Francis Parker School. “We applaud WAKE UP! for taking this issue head on in both public and private schools across our nation and are proud to be involved in this innovative program at its inception.”
“The WAKE UP! campaign is a needed and necessary program for teenagers nationwide. We immediately got on board when approached to be one of the initial school systems. We’re thrilled to be national leaders of WAKE UP! by bringing this important message into our students’ curriculum,” said Joe Fulcher, Ph.D., Chief Student Services Officer at San Diego Unified School District.
Primary funding for this program has come from Millennium Laboratories, Inc., a San Diego based, clinical diagnostic company dedicated to improving the lives of people with chronic pain. “As a parent and grandparent, as well as a San Diego community member, I am personally aware of and deeply concerned about the dangers of prescription medication misuse and abuse,” said James Slattery, CEO of Millennium Laboratories. “Addiction is devastating and destroys families. This program engages teens in a way that doesn’t seek to simply scare or lecture, but educates them so they can make better choices.”
To expand beyond community reach, teens and the public nationwide are invited to participate by visiting www.WakeUpNow.org to download educational materials, find additional program information, get help, share stories and more. In addition, peers can also connect via the “WAKE UP! Mobile” app and website social pages. They can also join in a variety of contests designed to invoke creative and emotional expression.
About WAKE UP!:
WAKE UP! is a community educational campaign established by The Pain Truth, a Florida 501©(3), to combat the increase in prescription drug abuse among teenagers. It is designed to use science, not scare tactics, to educate teenagers of the effects and dangers of prescription drugs. The program uses a school “takeover” approach to reach thousands of students and their families with an extended program designed to teach not preach about the dangers of abusing and misusing prescription drugs. This program is unique in many ways. One of the most important aspects is sustainability through a school-based CORE of students and educators that remain present and active long after the original campaign is complete. Additional campaign elements include: simultaneous student, teacher, family, physician and community education; four weeks of one-on-one engagement; and integrated & interactive social media components that keep students engaged. Throughout the campaign, outcomes measurement will be compiled for continuous evaluation and steering of the program. Initial funding was provided by a generous grant from Millennium Laboratories.