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Last modified: Monday, June 27, 2011

Indiana youth, video contest warn of prescription drug abuse dangers

Winners announced

June 27, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Youth from across Indiana combined creativity with public health as they created video public service announcements regarding the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

The third annual Video Public Service Announcement Contest drew submissions from more than 70 participants ages 12-17. Nicole Wilson and Lynn Schulze of Jeffersonville, Ind., won the contest with their 30-second video ""

Indiana University's Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC), which is part of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, created the website in 2008 to provide free information, tools and resources for Indiana residents concerning proper prescription drug use.

Indiana 12-to-17-year-olds rank at the top when compared to other Big Ten states in non-medical use of pain relievers. According to the 2009 release of data from National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) 12.4 percent percent of Indiana ninth- through 12th-graders have used a prescription drug such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax without a doctor's prescription in the past 30 days. More than 22 percent of high school students in Indiana report taking similar drugs without a prescription at some time in their life. The IPRC is working to decrease this and other prescription drug abuse by getting Hoosier youth involved.

"The PSA contest is one of the first efforts of its kind to involve youth in spreading the message that using prescription drugs without a doctor's prescription is hazardous to your health," IPRC Executive Director Ruth Gassman said. "It is important that people not equate popping a pill that's not prescribed to them with having a cup of coffee. Parents need to be very aware of the prescription drug use behaviors they are modeling for their children."

The youth created 30- to 60-second video PSAs to address the growing issue of prescription drug abuse in Indiana. Each video shared youth viewpoints on how to address the concern of prescription drug abuse among their peers.

The top PSAs were highly competitive. The panel of judges included a physician, pharmacist, television producers, a researcher and an IU undergraduate student. Prize sponsors included Bloomington Hospital, Outback Steakhouse, Flip Video, Kroger, IU Auditorium and Eastman Kodak. The top five films are featured on the website

The first-place winners, Wilson, Jeffersonville High School in Jeffersonville, and Schulze, Lanesville High School in Lanesville, delivered a positive message via role modeling, while pointing to the need for people to secure their medications. In their entry, a teenage girl is seen taking several prescription containers from an unlocked kitchen cabinet. Meanwhile, the narrator shares statistics, including the fact that 20 percent of teens have tried Rx painkillers to get high. After examining the pill containers, the young lady returns them to the cabinet and viewers are told, "Don't be another statistic."

Wilson said she was already well aware of the problem of prescription drug abuse before she entered the contest because a family member has suffered from it and she also sees it among peers at school. Schulze said she knew prescription drug abuse was a serious problem but the research required for their entry "opened up my eyes to the problem that the world has with Rx drug abuse." She wants to be part of efforts to communicate such an important message.

Second-place winner Annie Johnston, Northview High School in Brazil, titled her PSA "The Dangers of Rx Drug Abuse." Prescription drug abuse is a "dangerous fatal trend rising among young people," she said, adding that 40 percent of teens think abusing prescription drugs is safer than using street drugs. Johnston said she lost a friend to prescription drug abuse just last year.

"You may get to decide your actions, but you don't get to decide the consequences," she cautioned other youth. "So, ask yourself whether those few moments of a so-called high are worth risking your life for."

William Hanna, Jeffersonville High School, won third place for his PSA in which animated pills arrange themselves on the table to spell out "Keep Rx Safe" and refer the viewer to the IPRC website for further information.

Josh and Jere Phelps, also from Jeffersonville High School, produced the fourth-place winner. This video also opens with a young man removing prescription pill containers from an unlocked cabinet, only this time he takes the pills. We then see him sitting and looking "spaced out" on the sofa. His younger brother appears and tries unsuccessfully to talk with him and show him a magazine, and then leaves him alone. As all of this action plays out, a series of captions inform the viewer of the consequences of abusing Prescription drugs: "Lose your friends, lose your family, lose your life."

The fifth-place winners, Gabe and Jacob Wheeler of Batchelor Middle School in Bloomington, tell us that 2,500 teenagers use a prescription drug to get high for the first time each day. Their video, "The Clock Is Ticking," cleverly provides images and statistics to show the degree of the problem -- 20,000 teens die each year from prescription drugs, which translates to 55 teen deaths per day and two per hour. The closing scene shows a boy looking down into a deep hole as the narrator appeals to the viewer, "Don't let Rx drugs abuse put you six feet under."

Barbara Seitz de Martinez, IPRC deputy director, said the PSA contest is an "excellent opportunity" for youth to learn more about a major problem they see among their peers and, at the same time, to be part of the solution as they build creative and technical skills.

"The contest serves at once to promote use of the IPRC KeepRxSafe website and to advance its mission through the participation of youth, their parents, their teachers and all who view the videos once they are posted," she said.

The website is a free resource to all Indiana residents and serves to provide information about proper prescription drug use with links for parents, youth and older adults. The website has tools to help identify prescription drug concerns as well as data and breaking news sections.

The website was created by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, both of which are funded by Family & Social Services Association/Division of Mental Health and Addiction. For questions related to the website or to the PSA contest, please contact Mallori DeSalle at 812-855-5735.