In the July 12 Project Lazarus coalition meeting, top take home messages included “sharing pills can kill” and storing medicines in protected locations, not the typical medicine cabinet, saves lives.
Officials there said the leading leading cause of death stemming from prescription medications is accidental overdose among those age 11 to 18. They also said more than half of teen deaths are related to medication poisoning.
Campaign Coordinator Karen Eberdt, speaking at the Surry Community College Elkin Center where the meeting was held, revealed the truth that the average exposure to prescription drugs for youth is at age 11.
“That is flabbergasting to me as a mom,” said Eberdt.
The middle school level is a place where the problem can be confronted successfully through outreach programs aimed at abuse prevention, she said.
In addition, a big problem is that many of the drugs appear similar to candy, she said. The fact poses a consistent threat for potential overdose, said Eberdt.
Among other issues, she said the campaign is confronting a challenge of youth playing a game called skittling. The players all bring various prescription medications and puts them in a pot, then players are challenged to pick one of the many multi-colored array of pills out of a pot and swallow.
Eberdt said communities and schools across the state, the medical community, law enforcement, volunteers, and other groups continue to join forces to discuss and implement prevention measures.
Their efforts are making a difference, since Project Lazarus began in 2011, she said.
Eberdt said the coalition has a goal of extending the program into more recreation programs, festivals and into Pilot Mountain.
On the upcoming calendar, Eberdt said they have scheduled campaigns at the Autumn Leaves festival in Mount Airy, the Pumpkin Festival in Elkin, Jakes Day at Fisher River Park, Medication Education and Take Back at local community centers; and a campaign at the Dixie Classic Fair.
“I feel good about the number involved in Surry County,” said Eberdt.
Meanwhile, she and volunteers continue to reach out for anyone wanting to help or initiate campaigns.
In addition, the group is working on applying for and receiving grant money, and more high school project initiatives.
Sponsors can help with supplies including: pencils, papers, pamphlets, flyers, stickers, and apply-on tattoos (popular with school kids). She thanked all business sponsors so far and commended the success demonstrated by the Mount Airy Police Department in the initiative.
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Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.