By Peter R. Coleman, M.D.
In a recent study of high school students, 37% said they did NOT think trying heroin one time was a risky behavior. Can you believe it? We are facing an epidemic of opiate abuse in this country whether it is by prescription pills given by doctors or through heroin on the streets. The biggest concern is the younger generation does not fear the power of opiate addiction. I am passionate about helping solve this problem through my new educational initiative called IWINS (I Wish I Never Started) which we launched in early May of this year. Allow me to take a few moments and share a little bit about it.
The goal of IWINS is to prevent teenagers, including my own children, from ever experiencing the challenge of opiate addiction. Although it is very important to prevent all drug use among teenagers, IWINS focuses on educating teenagers on the dangers of one drug in particular: opiates. The reason is many believe that using opiates is as safe as smoking pot or drinking alcohol.
Unfortunately, it is not. Opiates account for nearly three-out-of-four prescription drug overdoses. According to the Center of Disease Control, more than 12 million people reported using prescription painkillers non-medically in 2010. That same year, a total of 16,651 people lost their lives from overdosing on opiates.
The IWINS initiative focuses on the stories of addiction patients that have recently detoxed at The Coleman Institute. By capturing these stories on video and sharing them through the IWINS website as well as social media, I hope my children, as well as teenagers across the U.S., will resist the temptation to try opiate drugs.
Since the accidental heroin overdose of acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, national attention has turned to the crisis of opiate addiction in the United States. IWINS is a non-profit initiative aimed at educating students, parents and their communities on the highly addictive nature of opiate drugs. In addition to sharing the stories of those in recovery, IWINS offers a variety of resources and information equipping the public with the knowledge they need to prevent opiate addiction in their communities. Finally, there is an invitation for students to take the pledge to never try opiates, even for the first time at the IWINS website. For more information or to take the pledge, please visit: http://www.iwishineverstarted.org.
Gene C. Wilson, IWINS Board Member,
(804)353-1230, ext. 312