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RIA helps shatter myths on prescription and OTC drugs

Prescription pills and pill bottles on a table.

By Cathy Wilde

Release Date: January 24, 2014

“One of the myths many teens believe is that prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications don’t pose any real danger.”
Kenneth Leonard, director, Research Institute on Addictions
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- National Drug Facts Week aims to “Shatter the Myths” teens may hold about drug use and abuse — and research by scientists at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) supports that message.

Sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the theme for this year’s National Drug Facts Week is “Shatter the Myths,” and runs from Jan. 27 through Feb. 2.

“NIDA is reaching out to teens to let them know the truth about illicit drug use,” says Kenneth E. Leonard, RIA director.

“One of the myths many teens believe is that prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications don’t pose any real danger,” Leonard says. “RIA is engaged in a number of efforts to better understand these potentially dangerous drugs and their consequences.”

Currently, Kathleen Parks, PhD, senior research scientist, is leading a two-year study on college students’ perceptions of the positive and negative consequences of using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. 

“For example, college students told us they use stimulant drugs such as Adderall or Ritalin, prescribed for ADHD, in order to deal with an increased workload and pressure to succeed,” Park says. 

“Our preliminary research has found that although students may be aware there are dangers associated with taking prescription drugs for recreational purposes, particularly when combined with alcohol, they think it’s a problem for other people, not for them,” she says.

Working with colleagues at Binghamton University and SUNY Albany through a SUNY Research Foundation collaborative award, Parks hopes the study will provide information that can be used to develop interventions that can effectively reduce use of prescription drugs for non-medical reasons among young people.

RIA has reached out to the public about prescription and OTC drug abuse through its Expert Summary series.

“Our Expert Summaries provide timely information on addictions and substance abuse topics, with an overview of a problem area as well as researched-based suggestions on how to address them,” Leonard says.

An Expert Summary on prescription drug abuse summarized the effects of opioids, depressants and stimulants, and outlined New York’s I-STOP (Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing) legislation. To download a copy, visit http://www.buffalo.edu/ria/news_events/es/es6.html.

Another summary warned of the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse and gave suggested ways for parents, physicians and pharmacists to be on the alert. It is available at http://www.buffalo.edu/ria/news_events/es/es7.html.

For further information on RIA’s groundbreaking research on significant addiction issues, visit buffalo.edu/ria. For National Drug Facts Week, visit drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov.

RIA is a research center of the University at Buffalo and a national leader in the study of alcohol and substance abuse issues. RIA’s research programs, most of which have multiple-year funding, are supported by federal, state and private foundation grants. Located on UB’s Downtown Campus, RIA is a member of the dynamic Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and helps promote UB’s strategic focus on research initiatives. 

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