The GEN Rx project will officially launch on May 14th, but the awareness campaign is off and running. Brand new billboards are already up… thanks to the digital media. Two of the billboards in Gwinnett County are digital ads. So, while the residents in two of our three target counties have to wait until after the launch, residents in Norcross and Lawrenceville can get a sneak peak.
These new billboards are a part of the awareness campaign created to spread the word about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. GEN Rx aims to prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs among 12-25 year olds. The campaign theme is – “Rx Drug Abuse: It’s NOT what the doctor ordered.”
There are two different messages being displayed on the billboards. One message focuses on the dangers of prescription drug abuse by sharing startling statistics, such as “prescription drugs are abused more than heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and meth combined.”
The second message focuses on the drop box locations in the target counties. To date there are more than 140 drop boxes located in sheriff’s offices throughout GA, that’s almost one for the 159 counties in our state. The drop box locations offer residents a place to safely dispose of their unused and expired medications 24 hours a day with NO QUESTIONS ASKED! The drop boxes have been provided free of charge to the sheriff’s office from The Council on Alcohol and Drugs (TCAD).
The remaining billboards will be placed the week of May 13th at additional locations in Gwinnett , Early and Catoosa counties.
GEN Rx is a program of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), and is federally funded by SAMHSA. The project is funded for three years and intended to reduce the availability, reduce the access to, and to reduce the perception of harm about prescription drugs among the target population of 12-25 year olds in Catoosa, Early, and Gwinnett counties.
The billboards will be on display for the next three to six months.
Every April communities across the country participate in National Take Back Day activities and this year our GEN Rx providers were added to the mix. National Take Back Day is when people all over the country drop off their unused prescription medications at a designated location in their community, and they do so with no questions asked. It’s sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in partnership with local sheriff’s departments.
This year our GEN Rx providers in Early and Catoosa counties collaborated with local law enforcement to host activities in their communities and the results were astounding. In Catoosa County the Sheriff reports accepting more than $30,000 worth of Oxycontin alone, which was submitted from a single household. Since the beginning of the year they have accepted more than 80 pounds of unused drugs – the most they’ve accepted in the history of doing this program. Catoosa Prevention Initiative is our GEN Rx provider in that county and their awareness efforts about prescription drug abuse and the National Take Back Day has definitely made an impact.
Early Choices, our GEN Rx provider in Early County saw their share of success as well. They partnered with local law enforcement and Harvey’s Supermarket to set up the National Take Back Day efforts in Blakely, GA. They accepted 26 pounds of prescription drugs from the community.
Guess what? These efforts don’t have to end. Even though National Take Back Day happens once a year across the country, it’s happening every day in 144 counties in Georgia. Thanks to the Dropbox Campaign that is spear headed by The Council on Alcohol and Drugs, law enforcement agencies across the state have been supplied with FREE drop boxes. These boxes are located in the sheriff’s office and can be accessed 24 hours a day with NO QUESTIONS ASKED. All you have to do is remove your unused and expired medications from your medicine cabinet and take them to the nearest drop box. You can find out more information about the exact locations of these boxes by clicking on this link: http://www.stoprxabuseinga.org/prescription-drug-disposal.html.
GEN Rx exists because there is a growing problem of prescription drug abuse among youth and young adults 12-25 years old. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 teens report abusing medications that were not prescribed to them. If we can get these drugs out of their hands, and remove the ease of access they have to them, we can make a tremendous impact in eradicating this epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Remember, “Rx Drug Abuse: It’s NOT what the doctor ordered.”
Just six weeks after lawmakers passed House Bill 178, the Georgia Pain Management Clinic Act, Governor Nathan Deal signed it into law. As of July 1, 2013 illegal pain clinics have to set up shop elsewhere.
For those of you who don’t know what this means let me explain. Illegal pain clinics (commonly referred to as “Pill Mills”) have been extremely problematic to our state, especially since 2011 when Florida and other southern states cracked down on these clinics by enacting tough regulations. Consequently, those illegal clinics shut down in those states and set up in GA.
According to estimates from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, there were fewer than 10 pill mills in the state in 2010. Unfortunately, that number has exploded since then, fluctuating between 90 and 140 over the last year.
Obviously, there are legitimate pain clinics that treat patients for chronic pain, but the illegal operations are supplying addicts and drug dealers with large amounts of oxycodone and hydrocodone, which are highly addictive.
The new regulations clearly defines a pain clinic as a medical enterprise where at least half of the patient population is being treated for chronic pain. Affected businesses will have to get a state license beginning in July; licenses will have to be renewed every two years.
Most importantly, the new law requires new pain clinics to be owned by physicians licensed in Georgia. One of the biggest problems with the illegal pain clinics is they are owned by non-physicians, including convicted felons.
We want to thank Representative Tom Weldon for his hard work in sponsoring this bill, which was three years in the making. We are excited about this new law and we are confident it will contribute to our plight to prevent Georgia’s youth and young adults from the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.