CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced that the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and Prevention First, a state affiliate of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, have unveiled new messages alerting parents and young people to the dangers of illegal and prescription drug abuse. The public service announcements (PSAs), to begin airing this month on radio and television stations statewide, include new messages about prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse. With the campaign, Gov. Blagojevich is asking media outlets in Illinois to join him in stepping up efforts to stop drug use, especially among young people.
“Too many young lives are devastated or cut short by illegal drug use or abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We are pleased to partner with parents and the media on these new anti-drug public service announcements. Our efforts have the most impact when the media, parents, schools and communities work together to prevent drug abuse.”
According to a 2007 report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drug among 12- and 13-year-olds, and prescription drugs are now as popular as marijuana. The report says new users of prescription drugs have caught up with new users of marijuana.
The painkillers OxyContin and Vicodin are the most commonly abused prescription drugs by teens, and these drugs are most often acquired from friends or family members, according to the report. Over-the-counter drugs are even easier to acquire, and can be easily misused.
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, information services and anti-drug public awareness campaigns.
Prevention First is the Illinois affiliate of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA), distributing anti-drug TV, radio and print messages throughout the state. During 2007, stations donated more than $750,000 in airtime for Partnership ads.
“We are working closely with the governor, state agencies and local community service organizations to ensure that every community in Illinois benefits from the public service
messages we recently released to the media,” said Prevention First Executive Director Karel Ares. “These messages give parents and other adults the support and information they need to
keep teens from ever 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 10 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 IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. “Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs.”
Later this year, Prevention First will launch Time to Talk in Illinois, a new campaign from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America that is focused on encouraging and supporting parents and caregivers to have frequent and positive conversations with their teens to keep them healthy and drug free. Time To Talk (www.TimeToTalk.org) provides parents with practical tips, tools and information to not only start the conversation, but to keep it going.