Broadcasters join forces to fight opioid epidemic

Television and radio broadcasters joined members of Congress and the National Association of Broadcasters on Tuesday on Capitol Hill to announce a massive, nationwide effort to fight opioid abuse.

In a news conference, the NAB and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids announced a multi-faceted campaign to address the opioid epidemic that is impacting many communities across the country. Together, media partners including FOX plan to leverage their reach to encourage treatment and raise awareness of what the NAB referred to as a national crisis.

Statistics show that every day in the U.S., 2,500 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time. And, addiction to prescription pain medication eventually leads many to heroin-- a cheaper and more readily-available alternative. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 45 percent of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. According to the NAB, more Americans die from drug overdoses than in car crashes—with deaths from heroin increasing 248 percent from 2010 to 2015. 

At Tuesday's announcement, the NAB highlighted local stories from stations across the country that has been aimed at bringing awareness to the opioid crisis. This includes not only regular news programming, but also documentaries, town hall forums and in-depth coverage across all platforms. The NAB says CBS TV Network, ABC-owned TV stations and iHeartMedia have also carried more than $15 million in Partnership for Drug-Free Kids anti-opioid PSA messaging in the last year, and broadcasters such as NBC, FOX, Univision, Telemundo and hundreds of other local TV and radio stations have devoted enormous resources to this issue.

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle spoke out at Tuesday's announcement in support of the campaign, including Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

As part of the partnership which runs through the end of 2017, local TV and radio stations across the country will air public service announcemnents that make viewers and listeners aware of life-saving resources, produce long-form programming and special reports on the topic, and create a toolkit of resources that will be available online and in print format,

"As first informers in times of crisis, broadcasters understand the power of the public airwaves to educate Americans about dangers affecting their lives,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “Today, we are pledging those airwaves and other resources to combating an epidemic that has touched the lives of millions of our citizens. We’re proud to join with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids in finding solutions to opioid addiction, and in making a positive difference for families across America."

"Today's opioid crisis requires an 'all hands on deck' approach to affect change and reverse this public health epidemic," said Marcia Lee Taylor, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. "All of us have a role to play, and we and all of the families we serve are so thankful to the National Association of Broadcasters for playing the very important role of using the airwaves to reach homes and communities, driving awareness and directing parents to life-saving resources for their loved ones."

The NAB has launched a section on their website dedicated to educating the public on the dangers of prescription drug and heroin abuse. Click here for a link.

Viewers and listeners are encouraged to join the conversation by using the hashtag #EndMedicineAbuse when posting on social media.

Watch this video created by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids:


Here are some steps you can take to prevent abuse, provided by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).

Monitor: Take note of how many pills are in each prescription bottle in your home, especially medications prescribed to your teen. Keep track of refills. Make sure friends and relatives are also aware of the risks. Encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicines.

Secure: Take medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, out of the medicine cabinet and secure in a safe place, such as a locked cabinet.

Dispose: Discard expired or unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines. Participate in a safe drug-disposal program, such as a drug take-back day or a drug mail-back program. Visit the Partnership’s Medicine Abuse Project to learn more about the disposing of medicine and find a medicine take-back location near you.

Communicate the Risks: Children who learn about the risks of drugs at home are at least 20 percent less likely to use drugs than those who do not hear that critical message from parents. Parents are encouraged to use these strategies:
- Be clear.
- Make sure your teen understands the dangers.
- Know the hereditary risks.
- Remind your child that you are there for support and guidance.