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RIA helps shatter myths about prescription, OTC drugs

By CATHY WILDE

Published January 30, 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

National Drug Facts Week aims to “Shatter the Myths” teens may hold about drug use and abuse — and research by scientists at UB’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) supports that message.

Sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Shatter the Myths is the theme for this year’s National Drug Facts Week, which began on Jan. 27 and runs through Feb. 4.

“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.”

Kathleen Parks, 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 the University at 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.

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.

Visit RIA’s website for further information on its groundbreaking research on significant addiction issues.. For more information on National Drug Facts Week, visit its website.