Monday, January 10, 2011

Rural teens more likely to abuse prescription meds; Operation UNITE launches 'Accidental Dealer' to guard medicine cabinets

A University of Kentucky study has shown rural teenagers in Kentucky are 26 percent more likely to abuse prescription drugs than those living in urban areas, the Lexington Herald-Leader's Mary Meehan reports. The study concludes 13 percent of teenagers living in rural areas have said they used prescription drugs recreationally. Only 10 percent of urban youths have tried them.

Dr. Jennifer Havens, right, spearheaded the study. She is a professor of epidemiology at UK's Department of Behavioral Science in the College of Medicine. "This is one of the first studies to show that hard data," she said.
Karen Kelly, director of Operation UNITE, a federally funded anti-drug program for Eastern Kentucky, said she was pleased to have the data. "We were excited when we heard about those numbers," she said. "A lot of times in small communities, people don't think there is anything to be concerned about."

The study looked at data from 17,872 participants ages 12 to 17 in the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It showed teens are getting pills from medicine cabinets in their home, which has prompted UNITE to launch "Don't Be an Accidental Drug Dealer. The program, which Meehan reports started in Knox, Clay and Wolfe counties last week, will inform communities about prescription drug abuse through town hall-style meetings and public service announcements. (Read more)

The program has also started in Breathitt County, with a training meeting last Thursday to make volunteers and key personnel "aware about keeping the lid locked on prescription and over-the-counter medications," Jeff Noble reports for the Jackson Times-Voice. "For some that attended, the session was more than just basic information – it was an eye-opener that mirrored their concerns," Noble writes, citing a statement from Kelly: “In Eastern Kentucky, the average age of first-time drug abuse is 11 years old, so this is a particularly critical issue.” Karen Bunn, chair of the Breathitt UNITE Coalition, told Noble that the program needs volunteers to work. (Read more)

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