Misuse of prescription painkillers a problem here

The prevention program  Dose of Reality has been launched in Sheboygan  County and Wisconsin.

Dose of Reality is an awareness campaign designed  toeducatethecommunity  and communicate that prescription painkillers  that contain opioids can be highly addictive and deadly. The prevention  initiative raises awareness and community  members are taking action  to ignite change by talking about the issue.

Deaths from prescription  painkillers have increased  by 38 percent in Wisconsin. Anyone can be at risk of becoming addicted, especially young people ages 12-25 years. Certain strategies, like preventing people from being exposed to heroin and nonmedical use of prescription opioids, could decrease the opioid overdose epidemic we are experiencing. Four out of five current heroin users reported using nonmedical  prescription opioids before starting heroin.

You may see print ads, bus signs, billboards and TV commercials or radio spots as public service announcements.  Healthy Sheboygan County supports  these efforts and has action plans to help fight this statewide overdose  and heroin epidemic.

The misuse of prescription drugs is a serious  problem in the US and our local area. It has escalated  in recent years to the level of a public health crisis.  Misuse includes using a medication in ways or amounts other than intended  by a doctor, by someone other for whom it is prescribed or for the experience or feeling it causes. More than 70 percent of people abusing prescription  painkillers get them through friends or relatives. An estimated 52 million people have misused  prescriptiondrugsat least once in their lifetime and teenagers are strongly  represented in this estimate.  Two million people have reported abuse or nonmedical use of pain relievers  in the past year according  to a recent survey.

According to NIDA’s annual survey, about one in 12 high school seniors reported abuse of Vicodin in the past year and one in 20 reported abusing Oxycontin.  These drugs are very addictive and are synthetic heroin. Using them, or misusing them, can lead to the use of actual  heroin and possible addiction.  It has been reported  that heroin is now cheaper and easier to obtain  than prescription pain pills and this has contributed  to the current problem.

Working together we can prevent prescription painkiller abuse in Wisconsin.  Learn more at DoseOfRealityWI.gov and find out how to support  these prevention efforts.

Mental Health America  and Healthy Sheboygan  County 2020 will have a community resource fair from 4:30-7 p.m. on May 3 at RCS Empowers on Geele Avenue. Please join us.

Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 believes that by educating our community  and working together we can prevent prescription  painkiller abuse in Wisconsin, encouraging our next generation to be drug-free.

For other prevention materials visit www.cdc .gov. For more on local drug abuse prevention efforts  visit www.healthy sheboygancounty.org. and like us on Facebook.

Elizabeth Abler, RN, is a Sheboygan County public  health nurse and member  of Mental Health/Substance  Abuse HSC2020.