An Idahoan dies every 46 hours by accidental overdose. Prescription drug abuse—most notably stimulants, sedatives and opioids—is a growing and largely unaddressed problem. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately one in four college students has misused prescription drugs and many more have been offered these medications by friends or fellow students. Many students may not even realize that they, their roommate, teammate or friend are misusing or abusing these medications – most of which are controlled substances and therefore are illegal to use without a prescription. When used the right way and under a doctor’s supervision, prescription drugs are safe and effective in treating countless medical conditions; however misused prescription drugs carry serious dangers including addiction and death. Taking medications the wrong way or without a prescription puts young lives at risk.
In honor of those who have died of a prescription drug overdose in Idaho and to raise awareness of the epidemic, The Rx Epidemic Memorial, a traveling memorial event, will be on the Boise State campus from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on March 17 on the Student Union patio. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held in the Bronco Lounge. The Rx Epidemic Memorial is an interactive work of art that welcomes observers and volunteers to participate in assembling the memorial into a visually appealing image. Empty prescription bottles contain photos of loved ones who lost their life to addiction with a sentiment written by their family or friends. The memorial prescription bottles are then artistically arranged into a thought-provoking image.
Anyone who wishes to volunteer to help assemble the memorial and become part of this live interactive artistic experience may do so. Volunteers should bring a wallet-sized photo of their loved one who died from addiction along with a memorial message. Their prescription bottles will be included in the memorial as it continues to travel the country. Anyone who feels compelled may share their personal story as to how the prescription epidemic and/or addiction has touched their lives.
Assembly of the memorial begins at 9:30 a.m. and it should be completed just prior to the start of the 12:00 p.m. presentation. Free food and entertainment will be provided, as well as an informational presentation from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Jerry Fee will perform some of his original music, including “Lock It Up” as “Pharmacist Phil,” his superhero persona who educates youth and families about prescription drug safety. The presentation will conclude with the release of butterflies in honor of lost loved ones.
The Rx Epidemic Memorial was created by the Rx Epidemic Memorial Foundation. The Boise State event is sponsored by Students and Other Broncos Enjoying Recovery (SOBER) at Boise State and Connect the Pieces (CTP) – To Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse, which is a project of Supportive Housing and Innovative Partnerships, a local non-profit. Participating organizations Idaho Regional Alcohol Drug Awareness Resource (RADAR) Center and Boise Ignite! will join SOBER and CTP in offering addiction prevention and recovery support information during the Memorial event.
SOBER is a student organization established to be a peer support group for students affected by alcohol or other drugs by reaching out to them in an encouraging environment that supports recovery and promotes awareness of the possibilities available to those in recovery.
CTP creates solutions to end the opioid epidemic and overdose deaths through recovery advocacy; prescription drug safety public health campaigns; and family and youth prevention featuring “The Amazing Adventures of Pharmacist Phil;” and provides natural alternative solutions to prescription medications for those who suffer from a substance use disorder and are in recovery.
The Idaho RADAR Center is an Idaho clearinghouse for substance abuse disorders, prevention and treatment information. The center, a Boise State University program, is administered by the Institute for the Study of Addiction in cooperation with the College of Education and the College of Health Sciences. Monies from federal block grant funds for substance abuse prevention and treatment are procured through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Division of Behavioral Health.
Boise Ignite! is an active sober community for people in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse, and for people who support those in recovery. Boise Ignite! engages people through service and ignites their passions through healthy physical and social activities.
For more information about the Rx Epidemic Memorial Foundation, visit their Facebook page.