Contest targets teen prescription drug abuse

The video begins with a teenage boy opening a cabinet to grab a bottle of prescription drugs.

“A few little pills can’t hurt, right?’’ says the narrator.

The teenager then is shown on the floor, apparently unconscious.

The video, produced by George Walton Comprehensive High School students in Marietta, won a Georgia high school video contest aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse among teenagers.

[youtube][/youtube]Prescription drug abuse is a problem that affects almost all age groups.

Among teens, a national CDC-sponsored survey in 2013 found that nearly one in five high school students has taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription. The survey asked if they’d ever taken a drug such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax, without a prescription. 

In Georgia, the percentage that answered “yes’’ to that question is similar to the national average of 17.8 percent.

The GBI reported that last year, prescription drugs played a role in the deaths of 524 Georgians in the 152 of 159 counties for which it performs autopsies.

The federal government says prescription painkillers are the nation’s No. 1 drug epidemic. Drug overdose death rates have increased fivefold since 1980.

Prescription drugs, especially opioid analgesics, have been increasingly involved in drug overdose deaths. These painkillers were involved in 30 percent of drug overdose deaths where a drug was specified in 1999, compared to nearly 60 percent in 2010.

A federal government survey revealed that more than 70 percent of Americans who abuse prescription pain medications get them from friends or family members.

[youtube][/youtube]Dr. Jack Chapman, president of the Medical Association of Georgia Foundation, said the video contest “is fully aligned with the MAG Foundation’s ‘Think About It’ campaign to reduce prescription drug abuse – which reminds people that they should only take their medicine as it’s prescribed, they shouldn’t share their medicine, they should store their medicine in a safe and secure place, and they should properly dispose of any unused medicine.”

Improper disposal of unused pills is an often overlooked problem. Prescription take-back programs, which offer a place for people to drop off unused medications, have been successful in removing potentially dangerous drugs from cabinets and drawers in homes.

The 30-second video contest for high school students, called “We’re Not Gonna Take It,’’ was sponsored by state Attorney General Sam Olens. “The winning video sends a strong message that abusing prescription drugs is not a game and can turn deadly quickly,” Olens said in announcing the winners.

The winning video by Adam Schmidt and Vaughn Smith will be aired on TV stations across the state.

The runner-up video was produced by students Logan Case and Raven Anthony of River Ridge High School in Woodstock.  The “people’s choice” award winner was produced by Columbus High School student Ekta Parab.