Pubdate: Wed, 14 May 2014
Source: Quad-City Times (IA)
Copyright: 2014 Quad-City Times
Author: Deirdre Baker


Just three weeks ago, a Rock Island County coalition named CAUSE
organized a prescription drug take-back event.

About 438 pounds of the drugs were collected on April 26 at three
sites: Milan, Rock Island and Silvis, according to Tammy Muerhoff,
superintendent of the Rock Island County Regional Office of Education
in Moline.

Muerhoff and her staff are in CAUSE, the Coalition Advocating for
Underage Substance Elimination. She and other city and county
officials involved in various prevention efforts gathered Wednesday at
Centre Station in Moline for a media event organized by Prevention

Prevention First is a nonprofit resource center from Springfield
specializing in preventing alcohol and other drug use among youth. The
event was held in recognition of National Prevention Week, May 18-23.

The prescription drug take-back activity is a great example of how a
collaborative group such as CAUSE can make a difference, according to

Prevention experts referred to information on the Illinois Youth
Survey, which shows, among other findings, that 10 percent of
10th-grade students, and 11 percent of 12th-graders used prescription
drugs without a doctor's permission in the past year.

The youth survey shows that 28 percent of 10th-graders and 36 percent
of 12th-graders think there is "no or a slight risk" when regularly
smoking marijuana. It also reported that 70 percent of 12th-graders
think it would be easy for them to purchase marijuana if they wanted

Reaching out

Prevention experts work in Rock Island County schools to educate
students in 5th through 8th grades on drug and alcohol abuse.

Programs include the Strengthening Families Program in Rock Island;
Project ALERT at junior high schools in Rock Island, Rockridge and
East Moline; and Too Good for Drugs, in all of the 5th and 6th grades
at Rock Island-Milan, Moline and Silvis schools.

Lately, more attention has been given to education about marijuana,
according to Pam Ziegler, a certified prevention specialist at the
Martin Luther King Jr. Center, Rock Island.

Ziegler, along with Carlos Jimenez, also at the King Center, and with
Kim Callaway Thompson and Jennifer Ealy of RICCA, or the Rock Island
County Council on Addictions, all met with media representatives on

The experts work in the county's public and private schools on a
12-week program that stresses prevention. They follow a curriculum
that touches on alcohol and drugs, including marijuana.

Ziegler said the students have heard that marijuana can be used as
medicine, but they have many misconceptions as well.

Facts, not fiction

For example, educators explain that medical marijuana comes in a pill
or lozenge for certain patients, while there are dangers when
marijuana is smoked.

There are discussions with the students, Ziegler said, on why alcohol
and cigarettes are legal in many cases, but marijuana mainly is not.

The experts all agreed that public acceptance of marijuana use has
increased in the past few years, but they note that law enforcement
officials stress that the drug is still illegal in Illinois.

The work continues. As Muerhoff said, there will be another
prescription drug take-back event in September.

So what happens to the drugs after they are collected? The federal
Drug Enforcement Administration incinerates the drugs, Muerhoff said.


What is CAUSE?

CAUSE, the collaborative group in Rock Island County (Coalition
Advocating for Underage Substance Elimination) is composed of
community sectors including: Schools, parents, media, businesses,
government, law enforcement, social services, youth, senior citizens,
spiritual organizations and the faith community, health care and civic

According to its mission statement, CAUSE promotes community awareness
of the negative effects of drugs and alcohol use in teens. It uses
prevention education and "adventure-based activities" to target a
reduction in underage drinking.

The CAUSE group meets the fourth Thursday of each month from 9-10:30
a.m. at the Regional Office of Education, 3430 Avenue of the Cities,
Moline. For more information contact Clayton Naylor, 309-736-1111.
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