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Youth-Led Efforts To Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

Ty Sells, Youth to Youth International
January 24, 2013

Hello, again. In my last post, I wrote about the importance of teens realizing their potential as effective leaders. Today, I want to share with you how some teens are leading a movement to prevent prescription drug abuse.

In the state of Ohio, youth-led prevention is alive and well. Last year, the Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network (OYLPN)—made up of youth-led substance abuse prevention providers and youth across the state—planned and implemented a statewide rally, bringing together hundreds of drug-free teens from all over the state. As they marched through the downtown streets, they proudly shouted, “We are the majority!” and were greeted by many of the state’s leaders when they arrived at the Statehouse.

Youth to Youth (Y2Y) International, which I am a part of, is working to prevent prescription drug abuse among central Ohio teens. With the help of a grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation, a group of teens has adapted a toolkit from the Ohio State University School of Pharmacy Web site, Generation Rx, transforming it into an exciting and interactive presentation entitled, “The pHARMING Effects.”

The presentation includes:

  • A definition of prescription drug abuse and misuse
  • A discussion of the insidious nature of addiction
  • The impact of prescription drug marketing as well as tips on how to think critically about this advertising
  • Relevant statistics and strategies for teens to initiate change in their homes, schools, and communities

This is a great example of effective youth-led prevention: Teens taking relevant and accurate information, designing a presentation, then using it to educate other young people.

Y2Y Teens Partner With NIDA and PEERx

In summer 2012, in an effort to develop a youth-led workshop, several Y2Y teens checked out NIDA’s PEERx Web site. Using NIDA’s science-based information, they created a workshop entitled, “The Epidemic Among Us.” They presented this workshop six different times at the Youth to Youth International summer conferences in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island. The workshop was very well received by over 150 other teens, who each left with a t-shirt decorated using a PEERx iron-on transfer.

Presenting the workshop not only helped educate the teens in attendance, but introduced the Web site as an excellent resource for young people who hope to continue making an impact back home.

Youth leadership in the world of prevention is vital.

How are youth in your school or community working to prevent drug abuse?

Ty Sells is the Director of Training for Youth to Youth International. He has worked in the field of youth development for over 25 years and speaks at schools all over the United States. He has developed a variety of presentations, workshops, and trainings for youth and the adults who work with them. 

Youth to Youth is a community-based drug prevention and youth leadership program focusing mainly on middle and high school students. The goal of its many projects is to harness the powerful influence of peers, encouraging young people to live free of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. 

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