One non-profit that’s high on my list is the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse. It was started, as so many organizations are, because of one family’s tragic loss. Last year, Arizona State University student Joey Rovero took a lethal dose of alcohol and prescription pills prescribed to him by Rowland Heights (California) osteopath Dr. Lisa Tseng. He died one day before winter break. Here’s Joey's story. Doesn’t it just make your heart break?
His parents (see photo of Joey with mom April on left) started NCAPDA to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse, and another family with a similar story has lent their voice as well. They have also enlisted several groups to help them, as well as reporters Lisa Girion and Scott Glover, who have documented for Los Angeles Times readers the ongoing legal investigation of Dr. Tseng by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine. Not only Joey but at least seven others recently died from narcotics prescribed by Dr. Tseng. .
Take a look at some of these findings from the Office of National Drug Control Policy:
- After marijuana, prescription drugs are the most abused illegal drug among young people.
- Teens are turning away from street drugs and using prescription drugs to get high. New users of prescription drugs have caught up with new users of marijuana.
- Next to marijuana, the most common illegal drugs teens are using to get high are prescription medications.
- Teens are abusing prescription drugs because they believe the myth that these drugs provide a medically safe high.
- The majority of teens get prescription drugs easily and for free, often from friends or relatives.
- Girls are more likely than boys to intentionally abuse prescription drugs to get high.
- Pain relievers such as OxyContin and Vicodin are the most commonly abused prescription drugs by teens.
- Adolescents are more likely than young adults to become dependent on prescription medication.
A video contest on the NCAPDA site is a way to further increase awareness. It’s for people ages 12-23 in the San Francisco area. You might also be interested to know that this group gives talks at schools and arranges panel discussions. There is also a page that allows you to enter your zip code and find a local pharmacy where you can safely dispose of old prescription drugs.
We need all the help we can get in trying to create awareness and avoid the senseless deaths from prescription drugs abuse. There are too many Joeys, and too many parents losing their children. My hat is off to his parents and those working with them.
NOTE: Here is a link to April Rovero's testimony in Sacramento in favor of having the pharmaceutical companies provide funding for CURES, California's real time online database that helps doctors quickly discover if clients seeking prescriptions for narcotics are doctor shopping or pharmacy hopping.