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Campaign to combat teen prescription drug abuse

January 16, 2014 - The Gazette

Troubling statistics about the numbers of Colorado teens abusing prescription drugs have spawned a new statewide drug abuse prevention campaign.

The Rise Above Colorado campaign, which has the support of Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers, and builds on the experience of the Colorado Meth Project, is being unveiled Wednesday. It will include educational programs and outreach efforts across the state.

"We wanted to respond to the changing drug landscape," Rise Above Colorado executive director Kent MacLennan said. "We will communicate with teens on a science and fact basis. We won't be preachy. We will present facts in an honest way."

Colorado youth have reported in a survey that prescription medications are easier to get than beer. After marijuana, over-the-counter and prescription drugs are counted as the most abused substances by teens.

Statistics gleaned from the survey done by Rise Above Colorado and The Partnership at Drugfree.orgshow that more than 29 percent of Colorado 12-graders had taken prescription medication without a doctor's prescription at least once. That figure is higher than the national average of 25.6 percent and gives Colorado the second worst rate of pain-pill abuse in the United States. Oregon ranks No. 1.

Forty-two percent of teens in the survey said it was easy to get prescription drugs from their parents' medicine cabinets.

"It's easier than you would think it would be," said University High School senior Amanda Hill, speaking about how many students in the Greeley area are obtaining prescription medications.

Hill is part of Rise Above Colorado's teen advisory council, a group of youth who will help spread information about prescription drug abuse.

The non-profit program will be working in collaboration with The Partnership at, the nationwide program addressing adolescent substance abuse.

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