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ORLANDO, Fla. — According to an independent research firm, a recent pilot program to address awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse in teens showed 75% of all respondents were more aware of the dangers of misusing and abusing prescription drugs after participating in the educational program.
Wake Up!, established by The Pain Truth, a Florida 501(c)(3), was implemented into five pilot schools, thanks in part to a grant from Millennium Laboratories, three in San Diego, CA, and two in Tampa Bay, FL. The objective of the in-school prescription drug educational program is to raise awareness, increase knowledge, and change perceptions concerning the misuse and abuse of controlled prescription medications among high school students, providing students with knowledge to make better decisions and prevent first use. Wake Up! uses multi-media, social marketing and other tactics that are familiar and appealing to teens, but Wake Up! program developers believe the real motivating force is the science-based facts presented to the students.
According to the U.S Office of National Drug Control Policy, most teens initially get prescription pills from family and friends, including straight from home medicine cabinets. Prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic in the United States. More than one-third of those abusing prescription drugs in the U.S. are between the ages of 12-17. Deaths from prescription drug overdoses have become the second leading cause of accidental deaths nationwide, and the leading cause in as many as 15 states, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Additional findings from the survey demonstrate that nearly half of students believe that the program would change the behavior of their peers. After being exposed to Wake Up!, attitudes and behaviors concerning prescription drugs changed, with between 30 percent and 40 percent of students expressing more concern about friend's or family member's drug use, and reported that they were more likely to tell a parent, teacher, doctor or other trusted adult about their own or others' drug use. Additionally, over 90 percent of teens surveyed now understand that people are at risk of harming themselves if they use prescription drugs not prescribed to them.
"The results of the study are overwhelmingly positive and clearly indicate the Wake Up! campaign can have tremendous, beneficial outcomes," says Lora Brown , MD, a board certified pain management physician and medical director for Wake Up!. "Our team is looking forward to the future, and all that we can do in schools and communities across the country with Wake Up! takeovers, and sustainability through our CORE Ambassador student teams that we leave behind and continue to work with after the initial campaign."
Wake Up! has been invited to present the campaign and new research results at the Native American Youth Forum — Drug Abuse Education for a Community Response taking place April 5 at Pala Resort, northeast of San Diego, and the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative University event at Washington University in St. Louis.