CHICAGO – Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. today urged radio and TV stations to air new public service messages from the Partnership for a Drug-Free Illinois aimed at educating parents on the newest dangers of illegal and prescription drug abuse and what they can do to protect teens. The announcements are being released just a few weeks after two Bartlett High School students overdosed on over the counter medication in hopes that incidents like this can be prevented in the future.
The Partnership is an initiative of Prevention First, the Illinois affiliate for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The public service announcements (PSAs) distributed to radio and television stations statewide this week include messages about prescription and over the counter drug abuse, methamphetamines, heroin, steroids and inhalants. They also provide parents with suggestions for how to talk to their teenagers about drug issues.
“Parents are the most important influences on youth behavior and we want to help them stay on top of the dangers that face their kids today. Through constant media exposure and repeated anti-drug messages, we’re sharing strategies for preventing alcohol, tobacco and other drug use,” said Adams. “Our efforts have the most impact when media messages are combined with home, school and community involvement.”
The two Bartlett High school students overdosed on cold pills and were treated at a local hospital. The incident was an example of a growing concern over prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse among young people.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) administers the state’s substance abuse prevention programs and funds Prevention First, a comprehensive drug prevention organization assisting professionals and communities through training in effective drug prevention practices, library and research services, free prevention materials and anti-drug public awareness campaigns.
“The media is the most effective way for us to reach parents with up-to-date information about what drugs their kids are being exposed to today,” said Prevention First Executive Director Karel Ares. “Our goal is to prevent teens from first trying drugs, which is one of the most effective ways to reduce overall drug use in our communities.”
According to statistics compiled by the Partnership for a Drug Free America:
• Four of ten high school students have used any substance, alcohol or other drugs, in the past month. Nearly one in five teens (19 percent, or 4.5 million) report abusing prescription medications to get high;
• Nearly one-third of teens (31 percent, or 7.3 million) believe there’s “nothing wrong” with using Rx medicines without a prescription “once in a while;”
• One in 10 (10 percent, or 2.4 million) report abusing cough medicine to get high.
“Educating parents is crucial to helping prevent drug abuse and intervene with those who may have a drug addiction problem,” said Adams. “Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs.”
Prevention First works with local media to generate and sustain high quality donated advertising time and space for Partnership anti-drug messages on TV and radio, in newspapers and in other outlets that reach parents and teens in our community.
Prevention First works with community leaders, business and government organizations – both state and local – and other non-profits to provide resources for local programs and events and raise public awareness to reduce illicit drug use.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a nonprofit coalition of communication, health, medical and educational professionals working to reduce illicit drug use and help people live healthy, drug-free lives.
The Partnership’s research-based, educational campaigns are disseminated through all forms of media, including TV, radio and print advertisements and over the Internet. In its 18-year history, the Partnership has utilized the pro-bono work of the country’s best advertising, PR and interactive agencies, and the donated time and space of major media, to create the largest public service campaign in the nation’s history.
Last year, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, with support from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and its member companies, launched the first national prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse education campaign.
The campaign, released in both English and Spanish, speaks directly to parents by alerting them that their own homes are easily accessible sources for teens to obtain and abuse these medications. The campaign is comprised of hard-hitting television, newspaper, magazine and radio messages, a comprehensive online component and is supplemented by informational brochures to help parents get the conversation started with their teen. The campaign also includes a multi-faceted public relations effort.