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Last modified: Thursday, June 24, 2010

Contest educates youth about prescription drug abuse

June 24, 2010

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

The second annual Video Public Service Announcement Contest drew submissions from more than 70 12- to 17-year-olds. Evan Trout, of Fishers, Ind., won the contest with his 30-second video "ER visits." His video can be viewed at

Evan Trout

Evan Trout, winner of the Video Public Service Announcement Contest was created in 2008 by Indiana University's Indiana Prevention Resource Center, which is part of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, to provide free information, tools and resources for Indiana residents concerning proper prescription drug use.

"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," said Ruth Gassman, IPRC executive director. "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."

Stephanie Enz, PSA contest judge and pharmacy professor at Butler University, said it is easy to see how young people are misled to believe that prescription medications are safer than illegal drugs.

"They are provided by a physician, come from a pharmacy, are packaged in labeled containers and are even prettily colored," she said. "The public service announcements created by these young people are an excellent means of getting the word out about how unsafe prescription medications can be when they are not taken as intended by the prescriber. The messages will allow the lines of communication to open between friends and between children and their parents."

According to 2009 data from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), one in every five high school students has taken a prescription drug such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax without a doctor's prescription. More than 22 percent of high school students in Indiana reported use of similar drugs without a prescription at some time in their lives, with 12.4 percent of Indiana ninth- through 12th-graders reporting they used a prescription drug in the past 30 days. The IPRC is working to decrease this and other prescription drug abuse by getting Hoosier youth involved.

"Education on proper medication use is essential for health and wellness," said Daniel DeSalle, PSA contest judge and physician at St. Francis Hospital in Mooresville.

The contestants 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.

"We used the PSA contest as a class project, during which we heard from a recovering prescription drug addict," said Tom Gross, vocational TV teacher at Jeffersonville High School. "We felt if any of our PSAs would touch just one person who was using prescription drugs, it was well worth the effort. We look forward to participating again next year."

The top PSAs were highly competitive. The panel of judges included a physician, pharmacist, television producers, a researcher and an Indiana University 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 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 topic of prescription drug abuse is important to me as not just a pharmacist and an educator, but also as the mother of a teenager," Enz said. "We can all do our part to help keep our teenagers safe."

The website was created by the IPRC and funded by Family & Social Services Administration/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 and For more information about the IPRC, in the School of HPER's Department of Applied Health Science, visit