Projects: Collaborate.Health

Prescription Drug Misuse in Youth through Parent Intervention

Educating parents about the dangers of prescription drug misuse to reduce overall rates among youth.

Agency Partner
Bureau of Addiction Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Support Services, Boston Public Health Commission
Communication Strategies for Public Health
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Educating parents about the dangers of prescription drug misuse to reduce overall rates among youth 12-17 years of age. Included development of a parent-focused social networking and peer leader strategy.


Prescription drug misuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States with 24% of teens reporting having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime. Prescription medicines are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12 to 13 year olds with rates increasing over the last decade.  Youth ages 12 and older who engage in prescription drug misuse report obtaining the prescription drugs for free from a friend or relative, with some taking it out of their parent’s medicine cabinet.  Prescription drug misuse can be attributed to low perception of harm; people think that abusing prescription drugs is safer than abusing illicit drugs because the manufacturing of prescription drugs is regulated or because they are prescribed by doctors.  Parents and health care providers are in a powerful position to prevent prescription drug misuse though gaps in educating these populations often exist.


Reduce overall rates of prescription drug misuse among youth 12-17 years of age in Boston with a focus on influential external populations.


After a thorough consideration of the most influential population to receive an intervention, the proposed intervention targeted parents of youth ages 12-17 in Boston through a parent peer leader training and parent social networking through appropriate social media platforms (i.e., Facebook).  This resulted in increased awareness of the problem in parents and a sense of social support and cohesion in the community.


Students developed the peer leader training curriculum along with communication materials to accompany the awareness portion of the curriculum (i.e., infographics, posters) as well as a mock-up of the social networking component. After the semester, the partner organization utilized some of the components in their ongoing awareness campaign that educates the public about prescription drug misuse. In addition, the partner organization used the findings from the literature review to advance their own understanding and hence programming related to prescription drug misuse.

Project Timeline

This project took six months to complete from kick-off meeting to presentation of final deliverables. Click the button below for a detailed timeline.

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