|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Monday, 10 October 2011 00:00|
MATForce, the Yavapai County coalition that fights against substance abuse, has received a $5,000 grant to help educate young people in the Verde Valley in the dangers of misusing prescription drugs.
The money was distributed through the American Medical Association Foundation’s Healthy Living Program, which aims to fund a variety of projects on the local level around the country focusing on issues ranging from drugs to physical fitness.
MATForce was one of only 37 organizations to win the grant, ultimately funded by Purdue Pharma, a Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company perhaps best known for producing oxycontin, a widely-abused prescription pain killer.
The money will be used to provide awareness programs in local schools and for youth organizations.
“These healthy living grants provide necessary resources and recognition to those organizations who are on the front lines in their communities, creating change on the local level,” stated Dr. Owen Garrick, president of the AMA Foundation.
MATForce is partnering with Verde Valley Medical Center to help provide the knowledgeable expertise needed to credibly and accurately illustrate the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
“We are here to help MATForce provide some support in the community,” said Starla Collins, spokeswoman for VVMC and Northern Arizona Healthcare. “We know it’s an issue in the community and we’re glad to be part of the effort.”
Collins said that the hospital would help the education effort in whatever ways it could, from providing speakers at events to giving MATForce input into marketing the program.
“There will be presentations throughout the community,” Collins said. “We’ll provide support for [the program’s] school activities.”
MATForce is looking to hear from any school, business or group that might be interested in scheduling a presentation.
“Prescription drug abuse is a No. 1 concern for MATForce and one out of every three 12th-grade students has abused a prescription pain medication,” stated Doug Bartosh, Cottonwood city manager and co-chairman of MATForce. “We are pleased to receive the AMA grant.”
Bartosh stated the grant would help further MATForce’s goal of keeping young people in the Verde Valley “safe and healthy.”
According to MATForce statistics, several children have not only damaged their health, but eight have died from confirmed prescription medication abuse.
A statewide survey indicated that even 20 percent of Arizona’s eighth-grade students have experimented with prescription drugs at one point or another.
It’s become a growing problem, even as abuse of other substances like marijuana and alcohol have declined somewhat.
“Prescription drug abuse is an increasing threat, especially among our teens,” stated Sheila Polk, Yavapai County attorney and MATForce co-chairwoman.
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