Clinton Foundation Asks Campus Media to Call Attention to Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

National campaign wants to send message to college students

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Clinton Foundation, a charitable non-profit organization addressing global issues, has organized a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse. The foundation is urging media organizations on university and college campuses across the country to help publicize the dangers in a coordinated effort on Wednesday, Dec. 4. Campuses are being enlisted in the campaign because college students are particularly vulnerable to this kind of drug abuse, and also because treatment and education are available to students to help address prescription drug abuse.

“We are excited to see the Clinton Foundation initiating an awareness campaign nationwide, and hope to see University of Arkansas students, faculty and staff having more conversations about prescription drug abuse as a result,” said Mary Alice Serafini, assistant vice provost and director of the Pat Walker Health Center. “The Pat Walker Health Center views prescription drug abuse as an important public health issue for the University of Arkansas campus.”

Prescription drug abuse is a national issue. Nationwide, deaths from accidental overdoses of painkillers have quadrupled since 1999 and now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“One misconception among students is that prescription drugs are "safer" than illegal narcotics; however, that is simply not the case, as evidenced by the staggering increase in prescription drug-related deaths,” Serafini said. “It is important for students to understand the large risks associated with misusing prescription drugs and make decisions based on risk reduction and personal responsibility for one's actions.”

Prescription drugs are primarily intended to help cure a physical problem or reduce pain. However, abusing prescription drugs – for example, taking drugs prescribed for someone else, or taking a larger dosage than prescribed – can lead to seriously impaired function, addiction and even death.

The Pat Walker Health Center has the resources to counsel and treat students who are abusing prescription drugs, but Serafini said that friends can be a key factor in convincing a student to seek help.

“If you are concerned about a friend misusing or abusing a prescription drug, the best way to engage them in a meaningful conversation is to create a safe, nonjudgmental environment, help them identify the problem in their life that caused them to seek out prescription drugs, and gently direct them to look at other possible solutions,” she said.

Each year the Health Center’s substance abuse prevention program compiles information regarding the health risks and campus policies for alcohol and other drug use.

More information about prescription drug abuse is also available at the Clinton Foundation website and in an ongoing conversation on twitter @clintonfdn and #healthoncampus. 

Contacts:

Mary Alice Serafini, director
Pat Walker Health Center
479-575-4077, mserafi@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

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