Press Releases


Jan 15, 2014 - Rise Above Colorado Press Release

First Priority: Early Teen Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention

DENVER Jan. 15, 2014 – The Colorado Meth Project announced today the launch of Rise Above Colorado, a new, statewide drug-prevention organization that aims to empower teens to live a life free of drug abuse. Rise Above Colorado will create proactive, youth-focused outreach and education programs to help teens learn about the risks of drug abuse. Rise Above Colorado will work in collaboration with The Partnership at, a national nonprofit organization working to find evidence-based solutions to adolescent substance abuse.

The creation of Rise Above Colorado comes at a time when Colorado has the second worst rate of pain pill abuse per capita in the United States according to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Teen prescription drug misuse and abuse continues to be a significant health problem threatening youth today. A 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted in Colorado revealed that 29.2 percent of high school seniors had taken prescription medication without a doctor’s prescription at least once in their lifetime. This is higher than the national average of 25.6 percent.

Parents Can Play Vital Role in Curbing Rx Abuse in Early Teen Years

According to findings from the new Colorado Teen Drug Use and Attitude Assessment commissioned by The Partnership at and Rise Above Colorado that surveyed 614 Colorado teens, it is critical to reach teens about the risks of drugs in the early teenage years, even as early as 12 years old. The survey found that at 14 and 15 years of age teens’ curiosity about drugs starts to climb, along with their access. By then they need to be educated, empowered and prepared to make smart choices.

Colorado teens not only have easy access to prescription drugs in their own homes and from friends and relatives, but they also have limited accurate information about the risks associated with abusing prescription pain killers or prescription stimulants. The Colorado teen survey found that while 42 percent of teens agree it is easy to get prescription drugs from parents’ medicine cabinets, too few parents are talking to their kids about substances like prescription drugs:

  • While parental drug discussions increase as teens reach 16 and 17 years of age, only two-thirds of teens age 14 and under say they have discussed drugs with their parents.
  • Of those teens who do discuss drugs with their parents, the conversations focus primarily on alcohol and marijuana without covering other dangerous drugs. Seventy-nine percent of Colorado teens surveyed discussed alcohol risks, and 70 percent of teens discussed marijuana risks with their parents.
  • Overall, only 32 percent of teens report they have discussed using prescription drugs with their parents, and even fewer conversations take place with youth 14 years old and younger.

Parents and caregivers are clearly missing the opportunity to play an active role in curbing the trend of teen prescription drug abuse. Parents can safeguard prescriptions in their home, educate themselves about the dangers and risks of using prescription medicines and communicate those risks to their children.

“The need to educate Colorado teens and their parents is imperative, and it has to happen now in our communities, homes and schools,” said Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. “Colorado has a prescription drug epidemic on its hands. When prescription opioid supplies are disrupted and the price of pills becomes too high, addicted young people are turning to street opioids. Consequently, heroin use by teenagers is on the rise. The efforts of Rise Above Colorado will help educate teens on the risks associated with drug abuse so they may make empowered choices and lead healthy lives.”

Concerning Trends in Teen Prescription Drug Abuse According to The Colorado Teen Drug Use and Attitude Assessment

  • Teens’ perception of risk associated with drug use decreases as they get older, which makes the early teenage years a critical point for educating teens.
  • Teens think drugs aren’t that dangerous if you don’t use them often. Eighty-three percent of teens see risk in using Rx drugs regularly, but only 59 percent see risk in using them on occasion.
  • More than one in five (21 percent) Colorado teens believe that prescription drugs that you get without a prescription are safer than illegal drugs.

Rise Above Colorado Responds to Rx Epidemic to Educate Colorado Teens

“This recent drug assessment validates our mission at Rise Above Colorado to empower teens to lead a life free of drug abuse and ultimately reduce drug use patterns in our state,” said Kent MacLennan, executive director, Rise Above Colorado. “The creation of Rise Above Colorado stemmed from the startling statistics in our state that show our teens need further education about the destructiveness of drug abuse, resources in order to help them make positive choices and the collective support of their parents, community and peers to shift their attitudes, perceptions and drug use patterns.”

“However, the survey also revealed that peer influence can make an impact,” explained MacLennan. “Teens in general are more likely to disapprove of their peers’ substance abuse, and they are influenced by their friends’ opinions. Eighty-eight percent of Colorado teens would give their friends a hard time for trying prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicine. For this reason, Rise Above Colorado’s efforts will help empower teens to not only make positive, healthy choices for themselves, but also to influence their friends.”

Rise Above Colorado will collaborate with a statewide network of community partners and youth-serving organizations to educate teens on the negative impact of drug abuse with materials like Web-based, teacher-delivered lessons; hard-hitting videos; interactive discussions; and online games and resources.

The launch of Rise Above Colorado will be marked by a kick-off event for friends and supporters of the Colorado Meth Project. The event will take place at the Cable Center at The University of Denver on Thursday, Jan. 15 at 5:30 p.m. and will also include the Colorado premiere of the GenArt documentary “Out of Reach,” a 25-minute documentary created by a teen filmmaker that captures the issue of prescription drug abuse through the eyes of a high school student.

Survey Methodology

HealthCare Research, Inc. used an 89-question survey to collect data among Colorado teenagers to understand their attitudes and behaviors surrounding illicit drug use, with a specific focus on methamphetamines, marijuana and prescription drug abuse. This statewide survey reached 614 Colorado teenagers by telephone, after obtaining the consent of their parents, between Sept. 16 and Oct. 27, 2013. The maximum margin of sampling error is +/- 3.9 points on a sample size of 614 interviews.

About Rise Above Colorado

Rise Above Colorado is a drug abuse prevention organization providing Colorado’s teens with information, resources and healthy lifestyle alternatives to help them choose a life free of drug abuse. The Rise Above team proactively collaborates with teens, educators, community leaders and partners to deliver school and community educational presentations, face-to-face outreach and uniquely tailored community prevention efforts across Colorado that impact perceptions and attitudes about drug abuse. Rise Above Colorado is affiliated with The Partnership at, a national nonprofit organization working to help families solve the problem of teen substance abuse. For more information, visit

About The Partnership at

Ninety percent of addictions start in the teenage years. The Partnership at is dedicated to solving the problem of teen substance abuse. Together with experts in science, parenting and communications, the nonprofit translates research on teen behavior, addiction and treatment into useful and effective resources for both individuals and communities. Working toward a vision where all young people will be able to live their lives free of drug and alcohol abuse, The Partnership at works with parents and other influencers to help them prevent and get help for drug and alcohol abuse by teens and young adults. The organization depends on donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and the public sector and is thankful to SAG-AFTRA and the advertising and media industries for their ongoing generosity.

About the Colorado Meth Project

The Colorado Meth Project is a nonprofit organization that implements large-scale, research-based campaigns and community action programs to reduce methamphetamine use in the state. Central to its integrated campaigns is – a definitive source for information about meth for teens. The Colorado Meth Project is affiliated with The Partnership at, a national nonprofit organization working to help families solve the problem of teen substance abuse. For more information, visit

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Media Contacts:

Carolann Samuels
GroundFloor Media
(303) 775-9282

Kent MacLennan
Rise Above Colorado
(720) 425-4200

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