Providing access to safe and affordable medicines is the highest priority for our members and us. Last fall, AAM's Chip Davis was honored as a Champion for Drug-Free Kids by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), an alliance of more than 5,000 community coalitions building safe, healthy and drug-free communities. “The best response to a crisis,” he said at the time, “is to trust in partners to advance the cause and create a bigger, longer-lasting impact than any of us can accomplish on our own.”
On May 7, the second annual summit of the Prescription Drug Safety Network took place in Washington, D.C. In partnership with EVERFI, a leader in digital learning and prevention education solutions, AAM is a sponsor of this evidence-based curriculum to prevent abuse on campus.
EVERFI’s Kimberley Timpf and Rob Buelow
Here are five key lessons from the summit.
- The Prescription Drug Safety Network is scaling up. Launched in 2017, the program is now in 2,750 high schools and 75 colleges and universities. Altogether, it has reached 265,000 students. At the same time, many of the educators on the frontlines of the crisis pointed out that opioids and other drugs are still killing too many young people. Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Superintendent of Oakland (Michigan) Schools, cited the vast number of pills available in the U.S. (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016 prescribers wrote 66.5 opioid and 25.2 sedative prescriptions for every 100 Americans.) “That scares the heebie-jeebies out of me,” she said during a panel discussion.
- The program is working. Kimberley Timpf, EVERFI’s Senior Director of Impact & Education; and Rob Buelow, its Vice President of Impact & Education, highlighted data on impact and the ways that the instructional education module changes attitudes. Students who take the prevention education program report being more confident in identifying the signs of misuse and abuse, reading prescription labels and stepping in to help someone who may be misusing or abusing prescription drugs. A slide from Timpf and Buelow's presentation.
- This is a bipartisan issue. In addition to passionate remarks by Democratic Congresswomen Ann Kuster (New Hampshire) and Debbie Dingell (Michigan) and Senator Robert Menendez (New Jersey), the event featured Kellyanne Conway, Assistant to the President and Senior Counselor to the President of the United States. Conway, who oversees White House efforts to combat the opioid overdose crisis, participated in a fireside chat with Jon Chapman, EVERFI Co-Founder and President, on how the Trump Administration is addressing this national public health crisis. EVERFI's Co-Founder and President Jon Chapman participated in a fireside chat with Assistant to the President and Senior Counselor to the President of the United States Kellyanne Conway.
- Opioids are not the only substances that students abuse. “Substance abuse does not discriminate,” the Addiction Center warns. “No one, regardless of whether they come from a good family or have a high GPA, is immune to drug abuse.” Tragically, illegal drugs continue to plague campuses, and other prescriptions are also widely distributed, especially on college campuses where students erroneously believe some will boost academic performance.
- A primary goal is shifting normative behavior, that is, the beliefs that society agrees upon. Pointing to another metric—the change in how participants perceive the attitudes of their peers toward prescription drug abuse—Timpf and Buelow quoted psychologist Alan Berkowitz: “For a norm to be perpetuated it is not necessary for the majority to believe in it, but only for the majority to believe that the majority believes in it.”
By Erica Klinger, AAM Marketing Director