Mentor Foundation USA holds conference focusing on the growing trend of prescription drug abuse among youth

Councilmember for Ward 7 in Washington, D.C. Alexander informs the audience about the prescription medicine abuse in her area. On the right the chair of Mentor Foundation Yvonne Thunell and Robert DuPont of the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.Councilmember for Ward 7 in Washington, D.C. Yvette Alexander informs the audience about the prescription medicine abuse in her area. On the right the chair of Mentor Foundation Yvonne Thunell and Robert DuPont of the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.

MENTOR FOUNDATION USA, the international organization that is focused on preventing drug abuse among youth, joined the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Embassy of Sweden observed National Drug Abuse Facts Day on Nov. 2, bringing together top scientists, parents, educators, counselors, community members and students to find ways to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse by youth.

SPEAKERS at the conference, which was held at the House of Sweden in Washington, included Dr. Robert L. DuPont, former head of NIDA and former Drug Czar; Dr. Wilson Compton of NIDA; David Mineta, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Cecilia Fant, Detective Inspector from the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation (who talked by telephone from Stockholm); Ken Winters, from the University of Minnesota; Jamila Sams, program director for Mentor Foundation USA; and Sharon Brigner, deputy vice president for PhARMA.

YVONNE THUNELL, chairman of Mentor Foundation and Mentor Foundation USA, welcomed the audience at the start of the conference and stated, “It is extremely important to raise the awareness regarding the magnitude of the misuse of prescription medicine among youth, and that is what we hope this conference will achieve. We have gathered parents, educators, and other experts in the field to talk about this growing problem and learn best practices on how it can best be prevented. We need to work together in preventing the newest threats of substance abuse among today’s youth.”

The facts about prescription drug abuse by youth are striking:

An estimated 56 percent of youth aged 12 or older report that they got and most recently used prescription drugs “from a friend or relative for free.”

In the United States, there are more unintentional overdose drug deaths due to prescription drugs than for heroin or cocaine.

According to a 2010 report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71 percent of drug-induced overdose deaths were due to prescription drugs.

Some 20 percent of all high school seniors in the U.S. admit to using an illicit drug within the past year.

EARLIER IN THE DAY, Mentor Foundation USA invited 100 D.C. high school students to the House of Sweden to interact with top U.S. scientific experts and guest speakers to shatter the myths about drugs and to pledge to stay drug free. The guest speakers included NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow and R&B recording artist Mario (Barrett), of The Mario Do Right Foundation. The George Washington University Center for Alcohol/Peer Drug Educators presented workshops in a game show format, and the fashion clothing retailer H&M announced the winner of the drug free T-shirt slogan contest, which they sponsored.

To access and copy photos from the day’s events, visit: www.mentorfoundation.org/usa/drug-facts-day-2011.

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