Illicit and Prescription Drug Abuse - Union County Regional Coalition
Did you know that the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates the economic cost of drug abuse in the United States at $181 billion per year? Illicit drug use and the misuse of prescription medications are widespread problems in the United States and here in Union County. Approximately 23 million Americans aged 12 or older, or roughly 9 percent of the population, were current illicit drug users in 2010. These substances include marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants. In a 2010 report, approximately seven million Americans reported that they currently used prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes. Although an estimated 1 in 10 youth aged 12 to 17 was a current illicit drug user in 2010, most young people refrain from using illicit drugs. Drug use among people of all ages is dangerous because it can lead to addiction, reduced self-control and impaired decision-making. In addition to other serious physical consequences, some drugs can alter the brain in ways that persist after the person has stopped taking drugs and may even be permanent.
As part of Prevention Week in Union County 2012, the Union County Regional Coalition asks parents to get involved in your child’s day-to-day activities and discuss the risks of using illicit and prescription drugs. By being involved early and consistently, you can help prevent problems before they occur. Parents should also securely store prescription drugs and dispose of unused supplies. Everyone knows someone who may have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Know the signs. Many signs may indicate that someone is abusing prescription drugs or using illicit drugs. Signs to look for include: missing prescription drugs (especially narcotics and mood stabilizers); evidence of drug paraphernalia or inhalant products; changes in friends; the use of secretive language; increased secrecy about possessions or activities; negative changes in school or job performance; increased use of sprays, perfumes, or mouthwash to mask smoke or chemical odors; and an increase in borrowing money.
Preventing substance abuse and promoting mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being makes communities stronger and healthier. It’s something all of us benefit from and something we can all contribute to. We are the ones who can make a difference in Union County through small, yet important actions in our daily lives. Take action, talk to your kids about the dangers of illicit drug use and help someone who may have a problem.
Funded by a grant from the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), Prevention Links will coordinate over the next five years a regional coalition whose mission is to assess the needs of Union County in order to enhance collaboration and coordinate prevention efforts that promote a drug free lifestyle and create a healthy community. By 2017, the Union County Regional Coalition will create prevention prepared communities through a collaborative effort to reduce underage drinking, the use of opioids, prescription drugs and new and emerging drugs across the lifespan throughout Union County. All members of the community are welcome to participate in the Union County Regional Coalition. To become a member of the Union County Regional Coalition, please send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.