Preventing Medicine Misuse: Inspiration From Past Dose of Prevention Winners

Many people know of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but did you know that October is also National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month (NMAAM)? We raise awareness about over-the-counter (OTC) medicine misuse and abuse every month, but during October, we kick things into high gear by collaborating with CADCA to invite coalitions to take part in the Dose of Prevention Challenge. To offer a glimpse of what winning ideas look like, we’re showing off the first-place winners from the last two years. If your teen is in a coalition, take a moment to encourage them to join the challenge this year and get some inspiration for their campaign! If your teen isn’t in a collation, encourage them to explore joining one or starting one!

Year: 2022
Winner: Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon County
Initiative(s): The Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon County wove multiple partnerships into their approach to the challenge. The first partnership was with JP Case Middle School where the coalition presented informational slides on cough medicine and prescription drugs, which concluded by providing educational brochures to the audience. Of the 70 people who attended, roughly 80% reported that they learned a great deal from the event and 88% reported that they were likely to share what they learned with others. These are impressive results that showcased the success of their efforts. Be sure to include statistics like this in your submission!

For Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day, the coalition partnered with ShopRite regional pharmacies and Grayrock Pharmacy to implement the “If you care, don’t share” safe medicine initiative. This included 18,000 pharmacy prescription bags, as well as banners and posters about safe medicine use, storage, and disposal prevention messaging. Flemington Food Pantry and Drug-Free Task Force helped distribute Family Conversation Cards that included Medicine Safety, Medicine Dose Spoons, and Brochures in both English & Spanish to 75 families.

The coalition also partnered with local Family Success Centers, Harvest & Oceans, at their Virtual Parent Conference. The coalition put together a PSA video about Medicine Safety OTC & Rx. This virtual conference led to meetings with 37 curious parents and professionals.

The final partnership was with Everitt Farm Pumpkin Junction and encouraged people to join their Pet Parade and Corn Maze events and distribute brochures in English and Spanish, Safe Med Disposal Pet Bandanas, and Safe Medicine Dose Spoons.

The 2022 winners didn’t stop at partnerships. They also developed an innovative poster contest for middle and high school students called “Posters for Prevention” promoted by Salvation Army Youth Group, Del Val Alliance, HCYC (Hunterdon County Youth Coalition), Round Valley Riders, CIACC (Children’s Inter-Agency Coordinating Council), and select Facebook groups. The social media campaign included 157 posts that reached 4,243 people in both English and Spanish.

Additionally, the coalition implemented a digital billboard in Raritan Township, known as the Clocktower, for DEA Take Back Day. The ad appeared eight seconds per minute from 6:00 a.m. until midnight each day and reached 13,714 people aged 18 and above. All of these initiatives came together to help the coalition reach over 36,000 people. This impressive reach greatly contributed to their selection as the winner of the 2022 Dose of Prevention Challenge. Read more about the Safe Communities of Hunterdon County’s efforts here.

Year: 2021
Winner: ACT Drug Free Community Coalition
Initiative(s): Through both online and in-person events, the ACT Drug Free Community Coalition reached over 3,000 community members. They developed multiple initiatives including hosting a DEA Rx Take Back Day, a panel at a local high school for 900 students, and a “Say BOO To Drugs!” trunk or treat event at the local Inkster Police Department.

Additionally, the coalition leveraged industry experts like Dana Suchow, an award-winning speaker, educator, and coach specializing in adolescent mental health and eating disorders, and Tom O’Donohue, a certified substance abuse prevention specialist. ACT organized coffee chats with these influential professionals that brought awareness to the co-occurrence of mental health issues and medicine abuse among youth.

The coalition also ran a social media campaign that posted daily content and live streamed “Did You Know?” sessions as well as the Botvin LifeSkills series, featuring substance abuse prevention specialists speaking about how the day’s topic related to cough medicine abuse.

Since southeast Michigan has a large Arabic population, cultural sensitivity and inclusivity was essential to the campaign. Bilingual content was created to ensure all community members had access to this information, showing how well thought out the campaign was. Read more about the ACT Drug Free Community Coalition’s efforts here.

Ask your teen: Do any of these initiatives sound interesting to you? Do you think you could do a better job spreading awareness and protecting your community from OTC medicine misuse?

If your teen answered “yes” to either of those questions, encourage them to click here to learn more about joining the Dose of Prevention challenge. First Place not only earns you the prestigious Dose of Prevention Award and acknowledgment at CADCA’s National Leadership Forum, but it also earns you a full scholarship to the Forum (registration and travel expenses included) and a $1,500 cash award for your coalition. Oh, and not to mention recognition in CADCA’s publications. Second and third place winners also earn recognition in CADCA’s publications as well as one Forum registration. Last, but certainly not least, participating in this challenge is a great way for your teen to boost their resume.

We’re excited to see what you come up with!

Take Action

Increased awareness can only mean increased prevention. Join us in the fight against teen cough medicine abuse by exploring and sharing our free resources.