Forum on teenage drug abuse slated for Nov. 29

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PORTLAND — A town hall meeting about prescription drug abuse by teenagers will be held Monday, Nov. 29, at King Middle School.

The forum will provide parents with information about the latest trends in teenage prescription drug abuse, as well as common warning signs of drug use and how to talk to children.

Panelists will include Kevin Cashman of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, Karen Simone of the Northern New England Poison Center and Ronni Katz of the city’s overdose prevention project.

In 2009, nearly 11 percent of high school students and 6.9 percent of seventh- and eighth-graders reported using non-prescribed prescription drugs one or more times within the previous 30 days, according to the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey.

Katz said, in most cases, teenagers are getting the drugs from their parents’ and friends’ medicine cabinets.

City officials said in a press release that prescription drug abuse among children 12 or older has increased by 20 percent since 2002.

Katz said that, while the city has been able to keep that rate low in Portland since the overdose prevention effort was started eight years ago, drug abuse within the city is beginning to rise again.

“It’s getting worse,” Katz said. “We’re trying to give people tools that will allow them to really create a prevention effort in their own home.”

Katz said last year there were 179 fatal drug overdoses – the most in Maine’s history, exceeding traffic deaths.

“It’s an equal opportunity destroyer,” she said. “Addiction is a family disease, so we take the family approach.”

The forum is scheduled to run from 6:30-8 p.m. in the King Middle School cafetorium, 92 Deering Ave.

Randy Billings can be reached 718-3661 ext. 100 or