Thursday, December 19, 2013

“Talk. They Hear You.” AnUnderage Drinking Prevention National Campaign for Parents

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)during SAMHSA’s 2013 National Prevention Weeklaunched “Talk. They Hear You.”  “Talk. They Hear You.” is a national campaign that empowers parents to talk to their children early—as early as 9 yearsold—about the many risks associated with underage drinking. 

“These young people are our future leaders—our future teachers, mayors, doctors, parents, and entertainers,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde.  “As our youth and young adults face challenges, we as a community, need to effectively communicate with them in every way possible about the risks of underage drinking so that they have the necessary tools to make healthy and informed choices.“Talk. They Hear You.”encouragesparents of children ages 9 to 15 to increase their awareness of the seriousness and pervasiveness of underage drinkingand equip them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to help prevent their children from drinking.

“Talk. They Hear You.” provides The Van Buren County SAFE Coalitionwith parent resources and materials to distribute in the community, including the Campaign’s public service announcements (PSAs).  These PSAs and materials show parents “seizing the moment” to talk with their kids aboutalcohol such as while preparing dinner or doing chores. By modeling behaviors, parents can see the many “natural” opportunities for initiating the conversation about alcohol with their children.  Parents can also practice talking about underage drinking with their children through an interactive, web-based role-play simulation they can use anytime.

For more information, Or you may contact the SAFE Coalition at, or via phone at 319-293-6412.

Marijuana and It’s Harm to Youth

Health officials are concerned that the trend toward legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use sends the wrong message to those who are most vulnerable to its effects: children whose bodies and minds are still developing.  Even in states where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized by voter referendum, its use is legal only for adults over age 21. Nowhere is smoking weed legal for children or considered safe for use by youth, but that's not the message they are getting.

Decreased Perception of Harm
·         Initially, the message teens were receiving was, "If it's medicine, it must be okay."
·         More recently, the message is, "If it's legal, it must be safe." 
·         The National Institute for Drug Abuse's annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey show that teens' perception of marijuana's harmfulness has gradually decreased over the years, which usually signals future increases in use among youth. 
·         In the most recent MTF survey, only 41.7% of eighth graders see occasional use of marijuana as harmful. As they grow older, that percentage decreases: only 20.6 percent of 12th graders see occasional use of weed as harmful.

Not a Very Good Message
·         As more and more states make medical marijuana use legal and more make recreational use legal, teen perception of the harm it can cause is diminished. 
·         "We are certainly not sending a very good message when we call it medicine and legalize it," said R. Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Easing Access and Attitudes Leads to More Drug Use by Youth
·         Usage rates among youths age 12-17 were higher in “medical marijuana” states (8.6%) vs. other states (6.9%).  (2011 Wall, M.) 
·         80% of “medical marijuana” states reported increased usage among you 12-17 vs. five years earlier in the 2009-2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 
·         Residents of states with “medical marijuana” laws had abuse/dependence rates almost twice that of other states.  (2012 Cerda, M.) 
·         Teen past-month heavy marijuana users are more likely than teens who’ve not used in the past year to abuse cocaine (30x), Ecstasy (20x), prescription pain relievers (15x) and over the counter medicines (14x).  (2012 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study) 

Chronic Youth Marijuana Use Can Stunt Long-term Educational Potential
·         Marijuana use negatively effects motivation, memory and learning.  (2011 NIH, National Institute on Drug Abuse)
·         Substance use, especially marijuana, contributed to college students skipping more classes, spending less time studying, earning lower grades, dropping out of college and being unemployed after college.  (2013 University of Maryland School of Public Health)
·         Persistent marijuana use during adolescence can cause a long-term 8-point drop in IQ, and harm attention span and memory.  Virtually every brain function was impaired, and quitting or cutting back did not fully eliminate IQ loss. (2012 Dunedin Study, Duke University)
Medical Marijuana States Report Undesirable Effects
·         Colorado drug related school suspensions and expulsions increased 41% from 2008-2009 to 2011-2012.  (2012 Colorado Department of Education)
·         Colorado teens use marijuana at a higher rate (10.72%) vs. the rest of the nation (7.64%).  (2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health)
·         74% of Denver teens in substance abuse treatment used someone else’s medical marijuana.  11.6% of Arizona high school users were supplied by a medical marijuana user.  (2012 Salomonsen-Sautel, et al. and Arizona Criminal Justice Commission)
·         Marijuana related exposures for young Colorado children 0-5 rose 200% in four years.  (2011 Rocky Mountain Poison Center)
The National Legalization Movement Resembles Big Tobacco
·         Once legal, as evidenced in Colorado and Washington State, industry advertising to promote addiction and target kids is inevitable.  (2013 Smart Approaches to Marijuana)
The consensus of science does not support the legalization of crude marijuana for smoking or any other form of consumption, due to its many health and public safety hazards that cause harm to the youth of Iowa.  Rigorous federal research and development of individual components of cannabis should be pursued with vigor to produce safe and effective science based medicines for use with physician and pharmacy oversight to treat those with valid medical needs, similar to other medicines currently being studied or already authorized by the FDA.  For more information on the dangers of marijuana for youth please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at

Don’t Turn Your Holiday into a Tragedy Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

Stay Safe and Drive Sober to Spread the Holiday Cheer
·         Drunk driving fatalities occur all year round, but data shows that the holiday season is a particularly dangerous time on the roadways.
·         In 2011, 760 people lost their lives as a result of drunk-driving-related crashes during the month of December alone.
·         From 2007 to 2011, 14,318 people lost their lives during December. Twenty-nine percent (4,169) died in crashes that involved drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.
·         That’s why the SAFE Coalition is joining highway safety partners and law enforcement organizations across the country to remind people during December and throughout the year that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving – and to always designate a sober driver.
·         Whether you’ve had just one or one too many, hand the keys to a sober driver. Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.
·         Your decisions can be the difference between life and death. When you drink and drive, you are endangering yourself, your passengers, and those on the road around you.

Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving
·         According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32,367 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2011, and 31 percent (9,878) of those fatalities occurred in drunk-driving-related crashes.
·         Even one drink can increase the risk of a crash while driving. Remember: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.
·         Designate a sober driver before the party begins; plan a way to get home safely at the end of the night.
·         If you are impaired phone a sober friend or family member.
·         Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.
·         If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life. 
·         Drunk driving can result in arrest, loss of driving privileges, higher insurance rates, lost time at work, court costs, fines, and attorney’s fees, and many other unwanted consequences. 
For more information on Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, please visit or the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at

Thursday, December 12, 2013

SAFE Holiday Drinks

It's the Holiday Season, and the SAFE Coalition continues to focus on the importance of planning for a sober ride home. The coalition is encouraging you to plan ahead and offer non-alcoholic drinks at your parties.
There are a lot of parties that go on during the holidays, and so the coalition wants people to know it wants you to have fun, but plan ahead. And one of the easiest ways that you can do that is to have a person that is appointed to stay sober. It's just one person, and if you don't want to be that person — no one wants to be that person — guess what? You can have someone that's not actually at the party with you come and pick you up.
Everybody always associates the Designated Driver with that person that's sitting in a bar drinking a soda. The coalition wanted to take care of the designated driver by offering them special holiday drinks that they can also have and enjoy the time out with their friends. These drinks were crafted by a bar owner in Austin. Everyone can have fun; they can enjoy the holidays, and Sprite, cherries and lime juice make for a special holiday drink as well.
The time to plan for a safe Christmas and New Year's Eve is ahead of the party, not at the party; because by that time, your judgment has been impaired. After one or two drinks you're not thinking clearly. It's very important to plan ahead. Certainly, don't wait until you're at the party to start thinking about how you're going to get home.
Here are some non-alcoholic recipes to try and remember the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition wishes you a very merry, fun and happy holiday season!
Holly Cranberry Punch
1 bottle of Cranberry Juice
2 (2 Liter) bottles of Ginger Ale
½ gallon of Vanilla Ice Cream
In a punch bowl, mix cranberry juice and ginger ale. Add vanilla ice cream to center of punch bowl. Allow ice cream to melt slightly. Serve and enjoy.  For variety, substitute other Cranberry Juices, such as Cran-Raspberry or Cran-Grape for the Cranberry Juice.
Traditional Holiday Punch
1 can of frozen Orange Juice
1 can of frozen Pink Lemonade
1 can of frozen Limeade
1 can of Pineapple Slices (in Juice)
2 (2 Liter) bottles of Ginger Ale
Completely thaw frozen juices. In a punch bowl, mix frozen juices. Add Pineapple Slices and juice, mix lightly. Add Ginger Ale. Serve and enjoy.
Sunshine Holiday Punch
6 cups of Orange Juice
1 (2 Liter) bottle of Sparkling Water
¼ cup of Lemon Juice
½ cup of Maraschino Cherry Juice
½ cup of Maraschino Cherries
2 Oranges (sliced)
In a punch bowl, mix orange, lemon, and maraschino cherry juices. Add sparkling water. Add orange slices and cherries. Serve and enjoy.
Poinsettia Pomegranate Punch
1 (16 oz) bottle of Pomegranate Juice
1 cup of Triple Sec
2 bottles (750 ml each) of Non-Alcoholic Champagne, Sparkling Cider, or Sparkling Water
1 tbsp. of Lemon Juice
In a punch bowl, mix pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and triple sec. Add non-alcoholic champagne, sparkling cider, or sparkling water. Serve and enjoy.
Berry Holiday Surprise
1 can of frozen Raspberry-Lemonade
1 can of frozen Strawberry-Lemonade
½ quart of Raspberry or Strawberry Sherbet
2 (2 liter) bottles of Ginger Ale
Completely thaw frozen juices. In a punch bowl, mix frozen juices. Add Ginger Ale. Add frozen sherbet to center of punch bowl. Serve and enjoy.  Allow sherbet to begin melting before serving.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Consequences of Underage Drinking

Over the last several decades, scientific understanding and knowledge of the dangers of underage drinking have increased substantially. Underage drinking is associated with various negative consequences for children and can affect and endanger the lives of those around them.

Children who drink alcohol are more likely to:
Use drugs
Frequent binge drinkers (nearly 1 million high school students nationwide) are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including using other drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.

Get bad grades
Children who use alcohol have higher rates of academic problems and poor school performance compared with nondrinkers.

Suffer injury or death
In 2009, an estimated 1,844 homicides; 949,400 nonfatal violent crimes such as rape, robbery, and assault; and 1,811,300 property crimes, including burglary, larceny, and car theft were attributed to underage drinking.

Engage in risky sexual activity
Young people who use alcohol are more likely to be sexually active at earlier ages, to have sexual intercourse more often, and to have unprotected sex.

Make bad decisions
Drinking lowers inhibitions and increases the chances that children will engage in risky behavior or do something that they will regret when they are sober.

Have health problems
Young people who drink are more likely to have health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Van Buren Youth Leadership Council Members want to remind youth about these dangers and encourage them not to engage in the risky behavior of drinking alcohol underage. It can be damaging to your future, your family and your life.
For more information on Youth Leadership Council please contact or call 319-293-6412. Information retrieved from

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Components of a Drug-free Workplace

Drug-free workplace programs can help employers create cost-effective, safe, and healthy workplaces. Early studies have indicated that successful drug-free workplace programs generally have at least five key components: (Donna M. Bush and J.H. Autry III. 2002. “Substance Abuse in the Workplace: Epidemiology, Effects, and Industry.” Occupational Medicine: State of the Art Reviews 17:13–25)
1.       A written policy
2.       Employee education
3.       Supervisor training
4.       An employee assistance program (EAP)
5.       Drug testing

There are other types of drug-free workplace programs that include these components along with others in their design. Variations consist of using health and wellness programs (including alcohol and prescription drugs as a major prevention and early intervention component) and providing ongoing interactive Web sites (e.g., GetFit in the online Drug-Free Workplace Kit) for employee, supervisor, and provider education and training.

Successful drug-free workplace programs, in addition to having the five key components listed above, often provide access to diversified Employee Assistance Programs. Employee assistance programs are programs, sponsored by the organization, that help employees by identifying and addressing a broad spectrum of health, economic, and social issues, including substance abuse and mental health that affect job performance. An EAP can enhance the work climate of an organization and promote the health and well­being of everyone involved. Contracting with an EAP has been found to be a cost-effective approach to providing assistance to employees. There are also free and low-cost ways to provide assistance. To cut costs, some employers use SAMHSA’s helpline (1.800.WORKPLACE), partner with other organizations, or rely on community-based, drug-free coalitions.

Before considering the five components, employers should examine the needs of their organizations and take steps to ensure that the programs they design will work well in their workplaces. There are numerous reasons why employers establish drug-free workplace programs. Among the leading reasons are:
                     To comply with laws or regulations
                     To qualify for insurance discounts, rebates, and other incentives
                     To prevent associated problems (e.g., absenteeism, accidents, injuries, productivity loss)
                     To respond to an incident or pattern of substance abuse
                     To express support for the majority of employees who do not abuse alcohol or other drugs
                     To invest in worker health, safety, and productivity
                     To market drug-free workers and services

A needs assessment can determine whether alcohol or other drugs are affecting the workplace, can identify resources and strengths, can examine appropriate policy and program options, and can help illuminate cost-effective strategies for achieving organizational goals.

The Collaboration between SEIDA, Southeast Iowa Occupational Health Services and Van Buren County SAFE Coalition would like to encourage all Van Buren County residents, workers and businesses to find out the facts about Drug-Free Workplaces and be informed.  If you are interested in implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Policy at your business please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Keeping Your Holidays Safe

Traditionally, alcohol has been a big part of holiday celebrations, but today we know there is danger involved in providing "open bars" to anyone and everyone. The percentage of alcohol- and drug-related traffic incidents increase dramatically during this time of the year.

In recent years, lawsuits have been successfully brought against employers, restaurants, bars and even friends of those who have died or been injured after leaving a holiday party or gathering, placing the liability for those deaths in the hands of those who serve the victims too much alcohol.

Consequently, communities, families, offices and students across the country are challenging the alcohol-based holiday party, according to The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information. The NCADI offers the following information in hopes of encouraging safer holiday gatherings.

Get the Party Started

  • Encourage lively conversation and group activities, such as games that keep the focus on fun - not on alcohol.
  • Prepare plenty of foods so guests will not drink on an empty stomach, and avoid too many salty foods which tend to make people thirsty.
  • Never serve alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age, and never ask children to serve alcohol.
  • Make it clear that no drug use will be tolerated.
If You Choose to Serve Alcohol

  • Offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages for those who prefer not to drink alcohol. You could even have a contest to create non-alcoholic drink recipes.
  • If you prepare an alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base, like fruit juice. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream faster with a carbonated base.
  • Don't let guests mix their own drinks. Choose a reliable bartender, who abstains from alcohol while working and keeps track of the size and number of drinks that guests consume.
Before Your Guests Depart

  • Stop serving alcohol one hour before the party ends, because only time sobers an individual who has been drinking.
  • If some guests have too much to drink, drive them home or arrange for alternate transportation.
  • Keep the phone numbers of several cab companies handy.
  • Don't let anyone who is obviously intoxicated drive. If they insist, take their keys, ask for help from other guests, or temporarily disable the car. If all else fails, call the police. Remember, you can be held responsible!
Facts to Remember
  • More than half of Americans are not current drinkers, so not everyone at your party will want to drink alcohol.
  • Impaired driving can occur with very low blood alcohol percentages. For most people, even one drink can affect driving skills.
  • Almost 40 percent of all holiday traffic fatalities involve alcohol.
  • Holidays are especially dangerous because more people celebrate by over-drinking, making themselves susceptible to alcohol-related troubles.
  • Coffee cannot sober up someone who has had too much to drink. Only time can do that. It takes one hour to metabolize one drink.
For more information on organizing alcohol-safe and drug-free parties, contact SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.

Source: NCADI. "Party Planning Tips." Healthy Holidays November 2001.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Though smoking is down, three times as many Americans still smoke tobacco as marijuana. Tobacco use is our nation’s top cause of preventable death and contributes to about 430,000 deaths each year. Tobacco use costs our country at least $200 billion annually — which is about 10 times the amount of money our state and federal governments collect from today’s taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

We know if it’s legalized, marijuana will be commercialized, too. A commercial marijuana industry will act just as the tobacco industry acts. Big Tobacco may even take over a marijuana industry once it’s up and running. According to a report commissioned by tobacco company Brown and Williamson:

The use of marijuana … has important implications for the tobacco industry in terms of an alternative product line. [We] have the land to grow it, the machines to roll it and package it, the distribution to market it.

Then there’s Altria, the parent company of Phillip Morris. It recently boughtthe Web domain names “” and “”

If this sounds frightening, it is. Big Tobacco has worked long and hard for decades to conceal the harms of its product — and hundreds of millions of lives have been lost worldwide in the past century. Big Tobacco knows it has to replace those lives with new customers every year. Who does it go after? Kids. Consider:

The Liggett Group: “If you are really and truly not going to sell [cigarettes] to children, you are going to be out of business in 30 years.”

R. J. Reynolds: “Realistically, if our company is to survive and prosper over the long term, we must get our share of the youth market.”

Lorillard: “The base of our business is the high school student.”

Phillip Morris: “Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer… Because of our high share of the market among the youngest smokers, Philip Morris will suffer more than the other companies from the decline in the number of teenage smokers.”

We would be incredibly naive to think a commercial marijuana industry wouldn’t employ all of the same strategies to convince people — especially young people — to use marijuana.

We don’t need Big Marijuana targeting us and saddling our country with enormous social costs. And we don’t need Big Tobacco taking over Big Marijuana.

Reprinted with permission from SAM ( For more information you may visit the SAFE website at

Monday, November 18, 2013

Today is the Great American Smokeout

The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about 43.8 million Americans still smoke cigarettes — Nearly 1 in every 5 adults. As of 2010, there were also 13.2 million cigar smokers in the US, and 2.2 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco. It also remains as one of the most expensive habits not only to the smoker but to society as well.

Youth Leadership Council members in Van Buren County will be holding a variety of activities both in their school and in the community that bring awareness to the dangers of tobacco. They will have sidewalk chalk art on Main Street in Keosauqua that will encourage smokers to quit on the Great American Smokeout. There will be a memorial event at the Van Buren Jr. High Basketball game to bring awareness to the deadly dangers of tobacco use. These along with all of the other activities that will be happening in the school are in an effort to further reduce youth tobacco use in our community.

For more information on the YLC organization or any of their activities you may contact them at or 319-293-6412. You may also find out more information the website: www.ylc/ or look them up on Facebook!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why do we recognize National Substance Abuse Prevention Month?

Every day, far too many Americans are hurt by alcohol and drug abuse. From diminished achievement in our schools, to greater risks on our roads and in our communities, to the heartache of lives cut tragically short, the consequences of substance abuse are profound. Yet, we also know that they are preventable. Last month, we paid tribute to all those working to prevent substance abuse in our communities, and rededicated ourselves to building a safer, drug-free America.  Preventing drug use before it begins—particularly among young people—is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences. 

In Van Buren County the SAFE Coalition and Youth Leadership Council (YLC) work with other groups in the county to help prevent substance abuse in our community.  During the month of October the coalition and YLC members recognized National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, Medicine Abuse Awareness Month and National Above the Influence Day by holding several activities to encourage positive choices by youth and adults in Van Buren County. 

These activities included a TAG IT activity that helped Van Buren Community High School students identify what they were above the influence of; Peer Teaching to help Van Buren Community Elementary students learn about the effects of substance abuse and choose to pledge to be substance abuse free; a Hall of Horrors event that helped Van Buren Community Middle/High School students understand the dangers of tobacco use; and a prescription drug take back day with the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve to help remove expired and unused prescription medications from the community safely. 

Van Buren County SAFE Coalition and the Youth Leadership Council continue to be a leader in Substance Abuse Prevention in Van Buren County.  They fight against these issues in October and all year long.  Stay connected on Facebook or via the SAFE Coalition Website at and the Coalition Blog  For more information on the SAFE Coalition, YLC and Substance Abuse Prevention Efforts in Van Buren County please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or

Monday, November 4, 2013

YLC Participates in Red Ribbon Week

The Van Buren Youth Leadership Council took a stand against drugs, alcohol and tobacco once again in honor of Red Ribbon Week. Students from Van Buren High School came up with a variety of activities to bring awareness to the dangers of these substance from Oct 23-31st.
The National Family Partnership organized the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign. NFP provides drug awareness by sponsoring the annual National Red Ribbon Celebration. Since its beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, angered parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction cause by drugs in America.
Youth Leadership Council members kicked off their week with the elementary students by providing them with red ribbons, hosting a wear red day and visiting each classroom to talk about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco and ask students to sign a pledge to be free of these substances. They saw a lot of red that day! They also promoted the event at the Van Buren High School by hosting a wear red day, having a trivia contest and hanging informational posters all over the school!
The week ended with a display in the high school hallway titled Hall of Horrors. This Hallway was decorated spooky with a Halloween theme. Each day students put up posters that showed the number of people killed in all of the most famous wars as well as from the most famous serial killers. At the end of the week they put up posters showing the number of people killed from tobacco, alcohol, drunk driving and texting and driving. This display is to show how many MORE people die from drugs, alcohol and tobacco than from major wars in our history.
YLC members know that it is not only important to bring awareness to these issues during red ribbon week but at all times and in all places. They encourage parents to have conversations with their teens about substance use. Did you know….?? Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don't, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations. Take a minute today to reinforce the messages your children have heard over the last week and encourage them to never try these dangerous substances.
For more information on Youth Leadership Council or Red Ribbon Week you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or via email at

What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us!

As parents, relatives, teachers and concerned adults, we spend a lot of time helping teens circumvent the challenges that could ruin their lives. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is substance abuse. We talk to them about the hazards of underage alcohol use and the problems associated with abusing marijuana and other dangerous drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. According to national statistics, we’re making progress, with most illicit drug use going down over time.

A drug category that requires our attention is prescription medications. The fact is that one in five teens or 4.5 million young people have abused Rx drugs (National Council on Patient Information and Education). They are abusing these medications to get high, fall asleep, wake up and deal with stress.

Teens believe that because Rx medications are legal, they are safer than their illicit counterparts, making these medications the statistical drug of choice after marijuana. Prescription drugs are also easy to get. Fifty-six percent of people who use Rx medications non-medically say they obtain these drugs from friends and relatives (NSDUH 2008), meaning that these drugs are freely shared or taken from medicine cabinets or other accessible places.

How do we protect the rights of those who need these medications to relieve pain, while also preventing their abuse? We’ve got to sound the alarm to parents and adult caregivers that prescription drugs are a source of grave concern. Teens are abusing these drugs and some are even dying because of it. Adults need to lock up their meds, keep track of their medication quantities and learn how to properly dispose of unused medications. Be a part of the solution.

This last weekend the Van Buren County Sherriff’s Office in conjunction with the DEA and the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition held their 5th Drug Takeback event. This was held in Cantril at Township Hall. Over 13 lbs of prescription medication was collected and returned to the DEA for safe disposal. We want to thank everyone who took part in this event and were part of the solution to a growing problem in our nation and even our own backyard.

If you have questions about how you can help prevent medicine abuse or want to safely dispose of medicines you may have please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or via email at