ONDCP Launches First Major Initiative to Combat Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

Friday, January 25, 2008 General News
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 The White House Office ofNational Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is launching its first major Federaleffort to educate parents about teen prescription drug abuse. This nationalpublic awareness campaign will begin with advertising during this year's SuperBowl, and is ONDCP's first paid TV advertising targeting parents in nearly twoyears. The effort includes broadcast, print, and online advertising, communityoutreach, and new print and online resources to help parents and communitiescombat the troubling trend of teen prescription drug abuse. The Administrationwill leverage $14 million to generate nearly $30 million in advertising. Theads were made in collaboration with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America(The Partnership), with pro bono creative provided by Draftfcb New York.

Though overall teen drug use is down nationwide, more teens abuseprescription drugs than any other illicit drug, except marijuana; more thancocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined. Every day, 2,500 kids age 12-17abuse a prescription painkiller for the first time and more people are gettingaddicted to prescription drugs. Drug treatment admissions for prescriptionpainkillers increased more than 300 percent from 1995 to 2005. Teens areabusing prescription drugs because many believe the myth that these drugsprovide a "safe" high. Especially troubling is that the majority of teens whoabuse prescription drugs say they are easy to get and are often free.

"When used as prescribed, prescription painkillers can be tremendouslybeneficial. But their abuse is becoming a serious public health and addictionproblem. We may be unintentionally providing our teens a new way to get high,"said John P. Walters, Director, National Drug Control Policy. "Most teens whoabuse prescription drugs say they get them from home, or from friends andrelatives. We need parents to recognize that not all drug threats to theirteens come from the street corner. Prescription drugs are in practically everyhome and parents can have an immediate impact on stopping teen prescriptiondrug abuse."

Research shows many parents are not aware of teen prescription drug abuseand are not discussing the dangers with their teens. Only a third of parents(36%) have discussed the risks of prescription drugs with their teen, eventhough research shows that parental disapproval is a powerful way to keepteens away from using drugs.

"The need has never been greater for parents to learn the facts about thisdangerous behavior which has become entrenched among teens," said StevePasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership. "Partnership research indicatesthat both parents and teens have a perilous misconception that abusingmedicines is safer than using street drugs, and that is simply not true.Parents are the most important influence in helping teens make healthychoices, and talking about the dangers of intentional prescription and OTCdrug abuse must be at the forefront of parent-teen conversations. We applaudONDCP for their responsiveness to the data on this issue and for their actionto alert more parents to the facts."

The ad concepts underwent extensive focus group testing before productionand were subjected to rigorous quantitative testing -- involving parents andteens -- before airing. The effort also includes the following advertising andnon-advertising elements, which will unfold in the coming months and continuethrough May of this year, reaching over 90 percent of our target parentaudience:

When used correctly and under the care of a health provider, prescriptiondrugs provide many benefits. But there are serious consequences to abusingprescription drugs or combining them with alcohol or other drugs, as manyteens do. ONDCP has released a full report: "Prescription for Danger: A Reporton Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse Among the Nation's Teens." Toview the report, visit:

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