Author: 
Rett Liles, Youth Drug Free Coalition Director

The 2016 Dose of Prevention Winner Shares Their National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month Experience

The Teen Health Connection Youth Drug Free Coalition works in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community to prevent underage drinking and prescription and over-the counter medicine misuse for teenagers. Because of our focus on prescription and over-the-counter medicine, it was a natural fit for our coalition to participate in the CADCA Dose of Prevention Challenge.

One of the advantages of our coalition is that we are uniquely housed in a comprehensive healthcare practice that provides medical and mental healthcare and prevention and health education services for adolescents ages 11 to 22. We are able to provide health education materials about medicine safety to all patients in the practice and to work with the clinical providers to discuss safe medicine practices and disposal.  While a great deal of our work is targeted to our clinical practice, we understood the importance of expanding our reach to include community-wide strategies to help raise awareness of the dangers of medicine misuse for teenagers.

We hosted an educational event at a local church with parents and their youth to increase awareness of the severity and dangers from prescription and over-the-counter drug misuse. Parents signed pledges to prevent prescription and over-the-counter medicine misuse that included securing their medications. We also used resources provided from the national Teen Cough Medicine Abuse campaign. 

One of our most successful strategies was a partnership that was fostered with a major media group in the Charlotte area. Our coalition crafted public service announcements about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter medicine misuse and these announcements were broadcast to over one million people in Charlotte through a total of 764 radio spots on five radio stations during the month of October -- National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month.

All of the strategies led to the success of our medicine abuse campaign and we were most fortunate and honored to receive CADCA’s Dose of Prevention Award. This award has elevated our coalition both locally and nationally. Because of the publicity at CADCA’s National Leadership Forum, our coalition has been asked to speak at national conferences about the work that we are doing in our community for prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse. We have had several presentations at conferences about this campaign and continue to receive requests for sharing our resources and evaluation of the campaign.

On a local level we have seen increased growth and engagement in our coalition members and a sense of pride in the work that we are doing. The many partners that we worked with on the campaign have asked for continued collaboration. Because of the success from the Dose of Prevention award we will be launching another multi-media campaign including digital and print media about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse. We have been able to leverage new funders to expand our outreach efforts and will continue to make an impact in our community.

The Youth Drug Free Coalition appreciated the opportunity to be honored with CADCA’s Dose of Prevention award. The award has allowed our team to highlight our success and to share our stories and strategies with other coalitions to broaden the reach of substance use prevention and have greater impact.