Coalition Director Lori Springer had met far too many young people whose parents were incarcerated for drug-related crimes. She and other community advocates sought to do something about it. The remedy has been a Dose of Prevention.
“Prevention works. It is cheaper than treatment or to lock somebody up. Substance abuse takes too many lives and ruins too many lives. It affects their family and their community,” Springer said.
Organizing the community wasn’t difficult.
“It was like throwing a rock into a pond. We had a ripple effect,” she said.
Before Springer knew it, she had all sectors of the community at the ready to assist her in providing memorable educational activities that have raised awareness of illicit drug use, alcohol and over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse.
And that’s why CADCA and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) selected the Shelby County Drug Free Coalition in Shelbyville, Ind., as its first place winner of the 2016 Dose of Prevention Award.
The coalition received the award for its comprehensive approach to help raise awareness of medicine abuse in their community during National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month’s CADCA 50 Challenge in October.
“While prescription and over-the-counter medicines are safe and necessary for many people, too many teens are abusing these drugs to get high. That’s why we’re glad to recognize the Shelby County Drug Free Coalition, which is utilizing a comprehensive approach to educate and address medicine abuse in their community,” Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA chairman and CEO, told the audience at CADCA’s 26th annual National Leadership Forum awards luncheon last month in the Washington, D.C., area.
Springer accepted the award on behalf of her coalition. She said that the abuse of medicines – both prescription and over-the-counter products – continues to be a problem in her community, located about 20 minutes away from Indianapolis. The misuse of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to get high usually involves medicines that contain the cough-suppressant dextromethorphan, with many teens intentionally taking large doses of these medicines in order to get high.
“We have learned that we have to listen to our children, really hear them,” the great-grandmother said. “We think that it is important to know the terms and what the kids are talking about because sometimes, as parents, we tune our kids out and don’t always listen. And things change so quickly, so we want to make sure we are out in front of parents and the community on substance abuse issues.”
As part of National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, the coalition encouraged parents to converse about safe medicine use with their children as young as kindergarten and middle school students participated in the coalition’s essay contest about a person in their life who kept them away from drugs. The coalition held a special breakfast and educated parents, youth and government officials about the dangers of abusing OTC and Rx. Its youth coalition also held other educational events throughout their community.
The Dose of Prevention second place award went to Seckman High School, Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter in Imperial, Mo., and third place went to the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention in New Port Richey, Fla.
CADCA urges coalitions to help raise awareness about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse by taking part in NMAAM and the CADCA 50 Challenge. To learn more about NMAAM, register for the CADCA 50 Challenge, and to download free materials, visit www.PreventRxAbuse.org.