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CEO of The Partnership for Drugfree.org delivers keynote at wellness conference


Keynote: Stephen Pasierb, CEO of The Partnership for Drugfree.org, discusses The Medicine Abuse Project, a five-year education, awareness and action campaign to combat drug abuse.
When it comes to prescription drugs, dentists play an important role in communicating the dangers and consequences of misuse to their patients and communities.

Dentists who attended the ADA Conference on Dentist Health and Well-Being Sept. 19-20 heard that message from Stephen Pasierb, CEO of The Partnership for Drugfree.org. Mr. Pasierb presented statistics on opioid use in the United States and provided an overview of The Medicine Abuse Project, a five-year education, awareness and action campaign to combat drug abuse.

The conference, which drew more than 150 dentists, dental team members, students and other professionals to ADA Headquarters, is dedicated to educating people on professional impairment, general health issues and ergonomics. Dentists shared stories about their lives, their battles with addiction, a loved one's struggle with drugs or alcohol, back problems and other health issues. With the exception of Mr. Pasierb's keynote address, dentists convened in small group workshops throughout the day, learning about topics they're interested in.

"This is a conference unlike any other at the ADA," said Dr. Jonathan Knapp, chair of the Council on Dental Practice, which oversees wellness for the Association. "It's a chance for dentists to share their personal stories and connect with their colleagues who have shared similar struggles. It's also an opportunity to learn about the latest statistics on the abuse and diversion of opioids and prescription drugs. These issues affect more than many might realize, and every dentist should be cognizant of the scope of the problem."


Feeling well: Dr. Dan Stephens, of Marietta, Ga., left, and Dr. Michael Yarbrough, of Atlanta, listen to opening remarks at the ADA Conference on Dentist Health and Well-Being.
That's where Mr. Pasierb came in, pleading with the dentists to do more in their communities to prevent opioid abuse. The number one place where teenagers obtain the prescription drugs they abuse is from their friends and family, namely their medicine cabinets.

"You've got to communicate to your patients the responsibility they have," said Mr. Pasierb, who said it's important to dispose of extra medication properly by destroying the pills and putting them in solid waste. "We have to get this supply out of society."

The Partnership at Drugfree.org's Medicine Abuse Project is enlisting major organizations, including the ADA, to join in a concerted effort and a national call to action to prevent medicine abuse, Mr. Pasierb said. The two key messages are for parents or adults to clean out their medicine cabinets or secure their medication and to talk to their kids about medicine abuse.

The objective is to reduce the number of teens initiating medicine abuse by 500,000 over the next five years, Mr. Pasierb said.  The seven federal partners are the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Drug Enforcement Administration; National Institute on Drug Abuse; Bureau of Justice Assistance; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and U.S. attorneys.

Mr. Pasierb encouraged the dentists at the conference to visit medicineabuseproject.org to view a sample press release, tweets, Facebook posts and emails they could use in their communities; logos; talking points; and statistics they can share with their patients. There is also a documentary, "Out of Reach," that local organizations can screen in their communities to initiate a dialogue about teen prescription drug abuse, he said.