Rx Abuse Prevention for Children: A New Pilot Program

Cmdr John Burke
Published Online: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
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The NADDI has announced a new program to educate the very young about drug safety and abuse.
Some time ago, I discussed the fact that the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), of which I am the national president, unveiled a children’s coloring book featuring “Dougie the Drug Dog.” Dougie is a real live police canine in southwest Ohio with a unique ability. He is trained to detect pharmaceutical drugs, something almost unheard of in the police canine world.

Dougie has visited countless schools, public forums, and training conferences, showing off his real-life ability to find hidden prescription drugs—something he is called to do on search warrants, consent-to searches, and jail and school venues when he is on duty with his handler, Officer Jason Doerman.

The coloring book teaches children that prescription drugs are safe to take when provided to them by their parents, grandparents, doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other trusted adult. This message is delivered through Dougie and his 2 friends, Emily and Madison, who visit the doctor at his office, the pharmacist in the pharmacy, and the hospital where a nurse is dispensing medication. The inside back page is intended for the parents and reminds them how important it is that prescription medications be secured inside the home.

After the publication of the coloring book, NADDI began looking for a suitable partner who was familiar with the prescription drug problem, but also had an outstanding reputation in dealing with children. Thanks to a lifetime NADDI member’s contacts, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Central Ohio Poison Center in Columbus, Ohio, quickly developed serious interest in the project.

I am very pleased to announce that after ironing out a few details, NADDI, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and The Central Ohio Poison Center have completed an agreement to move this project forward. The ultimate goal is making this a national project that would reach thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of children and their families, with the goal of reducing prescription drug abuse among this age group and the soon-to-be 12 to 17 year olds, who currently abuse pharmaceuticals more than any other substance.

NADDI has agreed to infuse some needed start-up money to kick-start the project with a newly designed coloring book and some electronic applications for tablets and other devices used by this age group. This is just the beginning, with the hope of these communication methods making their way to all children’s hospitals, and Shriners-Burns Institutes, and accompanying pediatric prescriptions filled at local pharmacies. No question there are other avenues for distribution and additional methods to spread the word to this age group about prescription drugs.

All 3 of the entities involved are non-profit organizations, and we are in need of collaboration from private industry, government, or other non-profit groups that simply want to assist us in getting this important word out to this age group before they enter into the crucial teens, where abuse of these drugs can be fatal. The organizations are forming an executive board, led by a representative of the Ohio Attorney General’s office, to move the prevention project forward for an ultimate press conference with Dougie in person during national poison week in March 2014.

If your company or organization would like to be a part of this exciting event through a donation to the cause, please contact me at my e-mail address (burke@naddi.org) and we can discuss the facts further. Those of you who work in retail pharmacies could give the powers that be a heads-up concerning this important endeavor, and encourage them to get more information.

There is no other source of anti–prescription drug education for children that we know of—making this pilot endeavor truly special and needed in all of our communities.


Cmdr Burke is commander of the Warren County, Ohio, drug task force and retired commander of the Cincinnati Police Pharmaceutical Diversion Squad.


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