Attorney General Sam Olens traveled to Parkview High School in Gwinnett County this morning to kick off an effort to highlight the effects of prescription drug abuse in Georgia. At an assembly of several hundred high school students, Olens, Rick Allen, the Director of the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, Dallas Gay, the co-chair of the Medical Association of Georgia’s “Think About It” campaign, and other Gwinnett elected officials announced the We’re Not Gonna Take It video contest. The contest offers prizes for Georgia high school students who produce videos explaining why they support a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t include prescription drug abuse.
In his remarks, Olens called prescription drug abuse an epidemic, with some ten percent of high school students experimenting with the use of painkillers, including Xanax and other opiates. The problem is especially prevalent in North Georgia, in some of the same areas where methamphetamine abuse has been rampant. He noted that in 2009, more people died from prescription drug abuse than in automobile wrecks. In addition, more people die due to overdoses of prescription drugs than do by the use of street drugs like cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine.
Following Olens’ remarks, Dallas Gay told the tale of his grandson, who began to abuse prescription drugs in high school after his wisdom teeth were removed. Despite receiving treatment during his senior year in high school, and undergoing therapy while in college, Jeffrey Gay passed away in October, 2012 after attending a party where prescription drugs and alcohol were served. You can read Jeffrey’s story here.
Comparing the dangers of prescription drug abuse to the risk of nuclear war, Gay wrapped up his talk with a quote from the movie War Games, saying, “The only winning move is not to play.”
High schoolers can create videos that talk about how damaging prescription drugs can be and post them on YouTube. A panel of judges, including Linda Stouffer of WSB-TV, will select first and second place winners, and all entries will be eligible for a People’s Choice award. In addition to having their video broadcast on TV, the winner will receive an iPad. Second and People’s Choice Award winners will receive $300 gift cards. The complete rules are posted here, and entries will be accepted through October 31st.