Alabama launches “Zero Addiction” program, adding state support to local efforts

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) - Alabama is recognized as having one of the highest prescription drug abuse rates in the country.

Now, state leaders are trying to do something to change that.

Governor Robert Bentley announced a new campaign Monday called Zero Addiction.

Funded by a federal grant through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the education campaign provides resources to prescription drug addicts and their loved ones.

There's also an online tool people can use to report concerns about prescription drug abuse to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

While the state is just now getting involved, this is an issue many local agencies have been fighting from the beginning.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free Community in Huntsville is combating the problem on several fronts, including the Take Back initiative and the Today's Youth, Tomorrow's Leaders (TYTL) program.

Since 2011, the Take Back initiative has safely disposed of an estimated 10,000 pounds of prescription drugs, while educating the public about the dangers of leaving old, unused medications where others can get them.

The TYTL program has already trained 80 high school students from around Madison County on the dangers of prescription drug abuse. These students are now taking the message to other teens, as well as adults.

As Deborah Soule, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free Community, explains, "what better way is there to get kids to listen, than to listen to their peers?"

The TYTL members also lead public forums to raise awareness about the issue.

The next forum is scheduled for July 23 from 1-3pm at the downtown branch of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library. Everyone is invited.

For more information about the Partnership for a Drug-Free Community, click here.