Data released by Touchstone Research Institute, an independent research firm, showed that 75% of all participants in a 2012 teen prescription drug abuse pilot program were significantly more aware of the dangers of misusing and abusing prescription drugs after completion of the program.
According to the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, more than one-third of individuals abusing prescription drugs in the nation are between the ages of 12 and 17 years.
The program, WAKE UP!,established by The Pain Truth, a nonprofit group in Florida,was implemented in five pilot schools (three in San Diego, and two in Tampa Bay, Fla.) in part with a grant from Millennium Laboratories. The in-school prescription drug educational program aims to raise awareness, increase knowledge and change perceptions about the misuse and abuse of controlled prescription medications among high school students, by providing students with knowledge to make better decisions and prevent first use. WAKE UP! uses multimedia, social marketing and other methods that are familiar and appealing to teenagers, but program developers believe the real motivating force is the science-based facts presented to the students.
Additional findings of the survey show that nearly half of students believe that the program would change the behavior of their peers. After exposure to WAKE UP!, teenagers’ attitudes and behaviors concerning prescription drugs changed. Between 30% and 40% of students expressed more concern about a friend’s or a 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, more than 90% of teenagers surveyed said they now understood that people are at risk for harming themselves if they use prescription drugs not prescribed for them.
“The results of the study are overwhelmingly positive and clearly indicate [that] the WAKE UP! campaign can have tremendous, beneficial outcomes,”said Lora Brown, MD, a pain management physician and the medical director of WAKE UP!