Education Campaign Aims to Reverse Trends in Teen ‘Meth’ and Ecstasy Use

A new health education campaign launching in the Phoenix area seeks to respond to data from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) that finds usage rates of methamphetamine and Ecstasy among Phoenix-area teens are above national averages. The campaign unveiled today by the Partnership – with support from the Partnership for a Drug-Free Arizona, the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AzAAP) and Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) – is dedicated to reducing methamphetamine and Ecstasy use among teens in the Phoenix area. The campaign consists of a pediatrician-driven media outreach effort designed to educate parents and teens about the dangerous health consequences of these drugs, and includes an intensive public service advertising campaign in the Phoenix market. Phoenix is one of two U.S. cities where the campaign is being introduced.

“The disturbing number of teens in the Phoenix area who already are experimenting with these drugs makes this a health problem that must be addressed,’ said Dr. Peggy Stemmler, president of the AzAAP, a key partner in the new health education campaign. “Paediatricians are in a unique position to help close the gap between perception and reality about the real consequences of these drugs.”

In the Phoenix area, 14 paediatricians will serve as primary spokespeople for the media communications effort. Campaign coordinators believe the voice of the medical community will resonate with parents in particular in order to motivate them to take an active role in persuading their teens not to use these drugs. HMA Public Relations, a local public relations agency, will coordinate media efforts for paediatricians participating locally.

“More than one of every three teens in the Phoenix area has been offered Ecstasy or ‘meth,’ and teen use of both drugs is above national averages,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership, the national non profit organization best known for its media-based drug education campaigns. “Phoenix needs the facts about the real risks of using these drugs if we’re going to turn those numbers around.” The Partnership is providing the local effort with hard-hitting public service ads for television, radio, print and Internet, as well as with research to measure the impact of the effort.

Top-line findings of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s study include:

* 13 percent of Phoenix-area teenagers report having used methamphetamine (meth), compared to nine percent of all teens nationwide; 13 percent report having used Ecstasy, compared to 11 percent of all teens nationwide;
* 33 percent of teens report having been offered methamphetamine, and 35 percent report being offered Ecstasy;
* 61 percent of teens report knowing someone who uses Ecstasy, and half (50 percent) report knowing someone who uses methamphetamine; and
* Just one to two percent of Phoenix-area parents surveyed (one percent for Ecstasy, two percent for meth) agree that it’s possible their kids may have tried these drugs.

“Survey data also show parents and teens underestimate the specific health risks of these drugs,’ said Pasierb. “Risk-related attitudes correlate strongly with trends in drug use; for example, when teenagers see greater risks associated with a particular drug, use of that drug declines, Unfortunately, the opposite holds true as well, so the time is right for a concerted intervention to reverse the trends were seeing in Phoenix.”

Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant. Often called ‘speed’ or ‘crystal’, meth is a crystal-like, powdered substance that sometimes comes in large rock-like chunks. Meth is usually white or slightly yellow, depending on the purity. The drug can be taken orally, injected, snorted or smoked. Once a threat largely in the American southwest, production and use of the drug, which is cheaper and longer lasting than cocaine, has moved steadily eastward in recent years, finding willing users in a generation unlikely to remember the phrase, ‘speed kills’. Long-term use and/or high doses of methamphetamine can bring on full-blown toxic psychosis, often exhibited as violent, aggressive behaviour. Ecstasy–chemically known as 3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA – is a psychoactive drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties. It can be extremely dangerous, especially in high doses. Usually taken orally in pill form, the drug accelerates the release of serotonin in the brain and provides users with an intense high, characterized by feelings of love and acceptance, as well as a general sense of well being, decreased anxiety and enhanced sensitivity to touch. Ecstasy can cause dramatic increases in body temperature, muscle breakdown, and kidney and cardiovascular system failure, as reported in some fatalities.
Source: Press release, Partnership For Drug Free America June 200

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