As of April 27, thirty-nine people have died of an overdose in Anne Arundel County just this year (AAHealth.org/opioid-related-data). The number of arrests and hospitalizations is frightening. People’s lives have been cut short and families devastated.
The war on drugs is sometimes silent, sometimes violent and many times ineffective.
One reason is because we have not done enough to stop the cycle.
- Kids that drink before the age of fifteen are six times more likely to develop alcohol problems. (5)
- Vapor product use is much more prevalent than conventional tobacco with 19% using a vapor product in the last 30 days, while 7% said they tried to quit. (6)
- Both role model behavior and hereditary factors impact a child’s potential for addiction.
- Peer influencers can prevent drug misuse if those peer teens are given the tools by adults who talk and listen to them. (4)
- Prescription drugs are the most misused substance by teens after marijuana and alcohol. In 2016, 12% of High School seniors used a prescription drug non-medically in the past year, including Opioids and Depressants. (1) Parents often find teen drugs to have come from the family medicine cabinet.
- Use of drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin may lead to use of Heroine. (2)
- Seventy-five percent of Anne Arundel County adults misusing prescription drugs started between ages of 12-25. (3)
Yet there are signs of hope.
Three programs that are making a difference are the Elks National Drug Awareness Program, The Bridges Coalition to a Drug Free South Anne Arundel County and the Anne Arundel County PAC (Police and Community) Program.
Why are these worthwhile efforts? Because they all focus on our youth.
Elk’s National Foundation has a program called DAP. This program provides educational materials and parental resources in printed material, on-line program (Elkteenzone.org) as well as scholarship and grants through the year. Enrique Camarena Red Ribbon week supports “JUST SAY NO.” There are also “JUST SAY NO” essay and poster themed contest.
Bridges, the Coalition to a Drug Free South Anne Arundel County is a volunteer coalition funded by a Grant from the Department of Health. Programs provided by the Coalition include sessions for Narcan (overdoes rescue) and TIPS (safe bartender serving) training, participation in local events with prevention Information. I look forward to the upcoming teen student created video on good decision making to be an applicant for this year’s National Elk Video contest.
Our Police PAC (Police and Community) program provides DARE drug awareness programs to kids in the schools and in special program like this coming summer Camp with a Cop. These officers also sponsor several activities throughout the year that demonstrates how our AAC Southern District Police are a significant part of the county’s prevention efforts.
As these fine programs continue to work together to bring information and resources to our young people, HOPE is in the future
Footnotes 1-5: National Elk Drug Awareness Program flyers available on request
Footnote 6: Maryland Youth Pandemic Behavior Survey (YPBS) report https://ypbs21.com/