Urgency to Raise Students’ Awareness about Prescription Drug Abuse

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According to a 2011 study from MetLife Foundation, the statistics are alarming for the abuse of prescription drugs among students in high school. Highlighted in a recent article, just a decade ago the chief concern for health educators, administrators and staff was to encourage abstinence from alcohol and illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and heroin.

There were no conversations about illegal prescription drug abuse and now we are alarmed by the statistics from use of such addictive painkillers as OxyContin and Adderall. In 2008, a White House survey showed that prescription drug use by illegal means ranked just second to marijuana use with teenagers. Today, we see the unauthorized and widespread risks of what these drugs are doing to teenagers and adults alike.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sees a huge link between illegal prescription drug usage and student academic performance in high schools. 41 percent of those who were registered students, who said they used the drugs just once, had D’s and F’s.

Last fall, the NASN, or National Association of School Nurses began a prevention program called “Smart Moves, Smart Choices” to distribute a toolkit for schools to make students aware of the dangers of prescription drug abuse. The decision was data-driven says Mary Louise Ember, NASN director, who states that 2,500 teenagers abuse prescription drugs each day for the very first time. The NEA, or National Education Association, is also working on an anti-prescription drug curriculum and hopes to have it released this July.

So far, many school districts have taken this serious problem into account due to the abuse and fatalities in their communities and schools but there is much work to be done to dealing with this alarming cpidemic.

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