INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by Attorney General Greg Zoeller, and the Indianapolis Colts are urging Hoosier teens to rally against prescription drug abuse by participating in the second-annual Pledge Challenge.
High school students from across the state are invited to compete in the Pledge Challenge by visiting www.BitterPill.IN.gov and taking the online pledge not to abuse or share prescription drugs.
The high school with the highest percentage of student pledges by Nov. 15 will win a $5,000 award for their school from the Colts, which will be presented by Colts Community Spokesman Marine Corporal Josh Bleill, during a Colts pep rally held at the school. Additionally, the winning school will be featured on www.BitterPill.IN.gov as a community leader in combating prescription drug abuse.
Drug overdose deaths have quadrupled over the past decade according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and half of overdose deaths are caused by prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that young adults abuse prescription opioids more than any other age group.
Zoeller said the goal of the Pledge Challenge is to educate young people about the dangers associated with prescription drug abuse and to urge teens to make safer, smarter decisions.
“Taking or sharing a few pills found in the medicine cabinet may seem harmless to some teens, but the reality is prescription opioids can be deadly if used incorrectly,” Zoeller said. “We’re asking educators, administrators, coaches and teen leaders to start this conversation in their schools and help save lives.”
To take the pledge, students can visit www.BitterPill.IN.gov and click on “Prevention — Take the Pledge.” The pledge challenge begins today and will run through Nov. 15.
“As a Marine, I experienced a devastating injury in Iraq that resulted in the loss of both my legs. In that respect I can relate to those held in the grip of pain. I understand prescription drug abuse can quickly lead to addiction and the battle to recover from the disease is extremely challenging,” Corporal Bleill said. “That’s why the Colts are helping to raise awareness of this public health epidemic and urge young people to step up and take the pledge not to abuse prescription drugs.”
Last year’s Pledge Challenge winner was Martinsville High School, which had 100 percent student body participation in the challenge with more than 1,500 students pledging not to abuse or share prescription drugs. Nearly 7,000 students from 60 schools across the state participated in the challenge last year.
Zoeller launched the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force in 2012 to significantly reduce the abuse of controlled prescription drugs and to decrease the number of deaths associated with these drugs in Indiana. For the past two years, the Task Force has partnered with the Indianapolis Colts to raise awareness of the epidemic and reach new audiences, specifically young sports fans.
More information on the Task Force, the Colts partnership and other efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse can be found at www.BitterPill.IN.gov.