December 9th, 2010

Smart Moves, Smart Choices

From Jeff Christensen, Manager, Product Communication, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Services, supporting PriCara®, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Surrounded by high school students, teachers, school nurses and parents, I sat riveted to my seat in an L.A. auditorium last month as I listened to addiction expert and national TV host Dr. Drew Pinsky give a chilling warning on the subject of teenagers abusing prescription medications:

The scariest thing I ever hear a parent say are the following words:  “Not my kid…My kid’s a student athlete…My kid’s an honor student…My kid’s a good kid.”  It can happen to anybody–anybody’s kid!  So, number one, never say, “Not my kid.

It was sobering advice for anyone, but especially for those of us who are parents.  Dr. Drew—as his viewers know him—is a board-certified specialist in addiction medicine who delivers a moving speech.  On this day we were taping a town-hall style meeting with him for Smart Moves, Smart Choices, a program which aims to educate students, parents and educators about the prevalence and serious risks of teenage prescription drug abuse.  The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and PriCara®, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., partnered to develop Smart Moves, Smart Choices.  PriCara also sponsors the program.

Smart Moves, Smart Choices targets a significant problem in that 3.2 million high school students in this country report having abused a prescription medication at least once in their lives, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.  In fact, more teens abuse prescription drugs than any illegal drug, with the exception of marijuana.

But what I find truly scary is that 41 percent of teens mistakenly believe that abusing prescription drugs is safer than taking illegal drugs.  Clearly, this is a not only a serious public health problem but one that brings with it a significant information gap among our young people.

This week, our two organizations introduced the program’s new Web site,, and it’s our hope that this new Web offering will be at least one step in the right direction toward reducing that information gap.  In addition to the Web site’s myth-busting facts and lots of practical “take-action” tips for teens, parents and educators, offers some great tools, like an interactive quiz and an online toolkit to help school nurses and other educators hold assemblies to teach students and parents about the issue.

Highlighted on the site are videos featuring Dr. Drew, who leads some fascinating conversations with the high school students, parents, a school nurse, administrators, and the Executive Director of NASN.  Also featured is a discussion Dr. Drew had with a compelling young man who is in recovery from drug abuse that involved prescription medications.  He is reclaiming his life in amazing ways, working full time while attending college part time and–after years of teenage drug abuse–remaining clean for the past five years.

I encourage you to check out the videos.  I think you’ll like what you see.  If you want to jump straight to them on the site, visit

Dr. Drew, who treats addiction patients regularly, wrapped up our taping with a declaration and a challenge to the students: “Prescription drug abuse and addiction is the problem of our time.  We have lost ground, particularly with your age group, and the time is now to do something about this, to address it aggressively.”  For those of us who are parents, the time for us to take action also is now.

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