COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.

Get the latest information from CDC ( | NIH Resources | NIDA Resources

Drugs & Health Blog

SADD Florida Teens "Share a Dose of Reality" at the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.

SADD Florida advisor Sherry Viersen (far left) and teen ambassadors Naya Zapata, Destiny Ramos, and Julissa Pardomo are joined by U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A. (center).

Julissa Pardomo, Destiny Ramos, and Naya Zapata, SADD Florida

Did you know that of the top 22 substances teens abused across the country in 2011, 8 were prescription drugs often found in the family medicine cabinet? “Abuse” of prescription drugs includes taking them without a prescription, even if you’re taking them for medical reasons. It can also mean sharing your prescription drugs with friends or taking them in a way not intended, including to get high.

Most of the prescription drugs that teens abused were addictive painkillers not even on the list of drugs of abuse a decade ago! Some teens originally got these prescriptions for legitimate reasons, such as having their wisdom teeth pulled or experiencing sports injuries. But, unfortunately, many did not realize how dangerous prescription drugs can be when abused, and they wound up addicted or in the hospital.

We are the University High School Florida SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Chapter, and the facts, as well as the prescription drug abuse problem in our home state, inspired us to become teen ambassadors for NIDA’s PEERx campaign about prescription drug abuse prevention.

The problem in our state is huge. Last year, prosecutors called Florida the “epicenter” of an epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, prescription painkiller sales per person were more than three times higher in Florida than in the state with the lowest sales per person (Illinois).

The SADD Florida teens’ philosophy is, “If the problem is mine, the solution also begins with me.” With that in mind, we were really excited to represent our fellow peers and SADD as the official “PEERx teen ambassadors” during the first-ever National Rx Drug Abuse Summit in Orlando, Florida.

Photo of a girl interviewing another girl.

We got a VIP experience during our entire time at the national summit! We met the Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Regina Benjamin; the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, R. Gil Kerlikowske; Congressman Hal Rogers from Kentucky; and the Director of NIDA, Dr. Nora Volkow.

Everyone was curious about our experiences and ideas. Stamping people’s hands at the exhibit with “CYP” helped to create curiosity about the “Choose Your Path” videos that we displayed at the PEERx booth. Throughout the 2 days, we talked to people who came to the PEERx booth and told them all about the NIDA campaign, which includes an Activity Guide for teens, fact sheets, cool designs you can download to make t-shirts (we were wearing them), and lots more.

We assisted 100 adults who attended a workshop about PEERx and helped provide them with a “teen perspective” on fun and creative ways to bring PEERx into their community organization or school. We were also interviewed by local television and newspaper reporters, who asked us about the PEERx initiative, the prescription drug abuse problem in our area, and what we are doing about it.

This was a fantastic experience that we will never forget. Thanks NIDA!!!

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


The work that these young people are doing, under the guidance of their sponsor, is highly valuable because it is a peer effort. Congradulations to University High SADD for its proactive program.

I think it should be someones personal decision to use drugs

i think its a good idea to have teen ambassadors because id rather listen to a kid who knows what im going through than adults

Max, It is great to have youth your age (peers) capable of relating and discussing issues that affect you, but I would not go so far as saying "as opposed to adults". If I,m 40 years old and you're 20, we may know a lot of the same things, but I'll know a bit more (and may have been through a bit more). It's how I communicate that to you that would be important. We both have to learn to speak to one another on each others frequency. Adults don't have to guide youth, but they might do a better job of working to relate to you perceptions. Youth might ask us to do just that. Remember, even though many adults "feel" that our past is a "secret" and personal. it isn't. We may have gone through many of the same things you're facing. Ask us!

I love seeing other young people being proactive about recovery. I got sober when I was 17 and it all started from the prescriptions I was stealing from my family's medicine cabinet and it wasn't long before I was using heroin and meth. I got help from Drug Rehab for Teens and have been clean and sober for three years. Check out their website if you are struggling or have a loved one that is. [commercial link removed, per guidelines]