Responding to a rise in opioid deaths and overdoses among young adults over the past several years, the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department (LPFD) and a number of organizations from both communities recently banded together to create "Teenage Rx," a newly released documentary that shares "a strong message on the risks and impacts" of teen opioid use.
Much attention has been given to the problem of street drugs like cocaine and heroin but "Teenage Rx" aims to educate people -- and especially teens -- about what LPFD officials called the "avoidable outcomes" of using prescription drugs.
"There is a common misconception among teens that misuse of prescription drugs is generally safe because the medications were prescribed by a physician," LPFD officials said in a statement Monday. "However, the reality is that misuse of these medications can result in a fatal overdose or lead to a lifetime of substance use that has an enormous negative impact on family and community."
Noting a more recent "increase in responses to young adults suffering the tragic consequences of opioid overdose," including several deaths in the community, a group of LPFD personnel started meeting in late 2018 to discuss how they could stop the problem. It was then decided to bring in the help of local experts and youths to create a video highlighting the seriousness of prescription drug abuse.
“As a first responder, you lean into a problem. The idea was born out of the ‘Every 15-Minutes’ concept and evolved with the partnership formed when working with the experts," LPFD Capt. Rod Leijten said.
"Teenage Rx" was locally produced and came together with support from the cities of Livermore and Pleasanton, Pleasanton and Livermore Valley school districts, Axis Community Health, as well as National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse founder April Rovero and Patti Frei, whose son Chase, a Foothill student, died of an overdose three years ago. The documentary also got a helping hand from students with the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Foothill High School, where filming took place.
The nine-minute narrative follows several Foothill students throughout the day and depicts a number of illegal sales of prescription drugs on campus.
The drama reaches its peak when an intoxicated girl passes out during classes and LPFD personnel are summoned to the scene. Facts and information about prescription drug use and how to get help are shared in popup bubbles throughout the film, which also features an interview with Frei near the end.
"We were happy to have our Foothill Visual and Performing Arts Department collaborate with our partners at the Livermore Pleasanton Fire Department to focus on such an important topic and issue in our community and across the country for our youth," Pleasanton Unified School District officials said in a statement. "We hope that this film will be a resource and a starting point for important conversations and education around teen addiction for our students and families and how we can, as a community, address this issue."
"Teenage Rx" can be viewed on the LPFD Facebook page at facebook.com/livermorepleasantonfd.