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Last Updated
April 19, 2017
Prescription (Rx) Abuse Prevention Programs > College Resource Kit

Taking Action to Prevent & Address Prescription Drug Abuse
A Resource Kit for America's College Campuses

Download the 10/25/10 Press Release

College Resource Kit Banner

Introduction/How to Use

Welcome to the College Resource Kit

What's Included — View a list of downloadable PDFs

College. It's often said to be the best years of your life. But college can be stressful.

For many students, it's the very first time they are away from home. While this new found independence can be liberating, it can also feel overwhelming. Adjusting to a new environment, communal living situations and juggling academic and social pressures isn't easy. Students often find themselves up against tough decisions — one of which is standing up to pressures to do drugs and consume alcohol.

Prescription Drugs on Campus

While alcohol abuse and binge drinking still top the list of substance abuse issues on college campuses, the non-medical use of prescription drugs — most notably stimulants, sedatives and pain relievers — is a serious and growing problem. In fact, those of college-age have among the highest rates of prescription drug abuse. About one in four people aged 18 to 20 report using these medications non-medically at least once in their lives (NSDUH, 2008), and many more have been offered these medications by friends or fellow students. By sophomore year in college, about half of students' classmates will have been offered the opportunity to abuse a prescription drug (Arria, 2008).

The concern is that many students may not even realize that they, their roommate, teammate or friend are misusing or abusing these medications. But doing so can jeopardize their future.

At the same time, early detection efforts to identify students at high risk falls short — less than one third of schools report doing any type of screening for prescription drug problems (NCASA, 2007).

Student leaders now have a new resource to spread the word about the negative impact of prescription drug abuse on their peers' health and safety.

Take Action Today

Taking Action to Prevent and Address Prescription Drug Abuse: A Resource Kit for College Campuses is designed to help inform and mobilize college campuses to raise awareness about and address the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.

The materials in the kit are designed to engage and equip peer educators and student leaders with timely and practical information, resources and student-driven programming ideas to educate their peers about prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment. Many of the activities use existing channels (for example, student health services, freshmen year experience) to help student leaders easily work in messages about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, especially when used along with other substances like alcohol.

Why Peers?

College students themselves can play a powerful role in elevating awareness and prompting behavior change around a particular health issue.

Studies that have shown peer education can help to:

  • Reduce high-risk behaviors
  • Support healthy attitudes and behaviors
  • Tell it like it really is (While prescription drug misuse and abuse on college campuses needs to be addressed, not everyone is doing it.)
  • cut through clutter and competing health information (peers listen to peers)

Peer influencers might include: peer health educators, resident assistants or advisors, campus leaders in student government, the greek system or special interest groups/campus clubs, and captains of athletic teams, among others.

The Goal?

Not only to educate college students about the growing problem and danger of prescription drug abuse, warning signs to watch for and resources for treatment, but also to help build skills so that students can take action against it. Inside this kit, you'll find many ideas and tools to help spread the word — downloadable handouts, how to start a Fan page on Facebook, a sample newspaper article and public service announcements, important messages to share when you are talking to friends and much more.

Keep in Mind

When taken as directed and by the person for whom they are prescribed, medications can help people with a host of medical conditions feel better.

But all medications have risks. Misusing or abusing your own or someone else's medication — even once — can be very dangerous.

Mixing prescription medications with alcohol or other drugs or crushing or snorting pills to enhance their effects — which some college students do — can lead to permanent organ damage, a stroke, heart attack, overdose and even death.

It's never a good idea to share your medications with friends or be in possession of someone else's prescription, regardless of the reasons. When it comes to controlled substances, it's illegal — yes, it's as bad as drug dealing.

What's Included? Downloadable PDFs

Inside the Taking Action to Prevent and Address Prescription Drug Abuse resource kit, you'll find helpful materials and ideas for building awareness and prompting action. These include:College Resource Kit PDFs

These materials were developed with the guidance and insight of an esteemed group of experts — the Project Advisory Team (PAT). This initiative is made possible by SAMHSA and additional grant funding from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation.

What's the Difference? Prescription Drug Misuse vs. Abuse

It's important to understand the difference from the outset. It all comes down to intention (FDA, 2010). Taking prescription drugs to feel good or get high is an example of drug abuse. Misusing a medication might include taking your own prescribed medication differently or at a higher dose than was advised by your healthcare professional or self-medicating with someone else's (for example, taking a friend's Percocet to treat a headache, sharing a sleeping aid with a friend who needs a night of good sleep). Whatever the reason, using these medications nonmedically — even just once — is very dangerous, and might even be illegal.

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