One in five college students reportedly turns to prescription drugs to handle stress, prompting Fresno State to join with local organizations for “Thrills Without Pills – The Silent Epidemic: Rx Abuse Awareness” at 9 a.m. Monday, April 23, at the campus Free Speech Area.

The free event will include informational booths and activities to increase awareness among college students, an age group that has had increases in prescription drug abuse, said Dr. W. Gregory Thatcher, assistant professor in Fresno State’s Department of Public Health. The 20 percent figure about college drug use comes from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

A panel discussion offering perspectives of a campus police officer, pharmacist, treatment professionals and a doctor begins at 11:30 a.m.

Collaborating for the event are Fresno State’s Student Health Center, University Police Department, California Health Collaborative’s Lock It Up and PATH projects, Prescription Abusers In Need, Central California Recovery, ESANO Health and the Women’s Initiative Next Generation.

Thatcher said the event’s goal is to help students protect themselves and their families, adding that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly 15,000 people die every year of overdoses involving prescription painkillers.

“Studies and published reports indicate that the intentional abuse of prescription drugs, such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives, is a growing concern, especially among young adults in the United States,” Thatcher said.

“Prescription drugs have become the second most abused illegal drug, behind marijuana,” he added. “There are troubling signs that young adults view abusing prescription drugs to get ‘high’ as safer than illegal drugs and most are unaware of the problem.”

For more information, contact Thatcher at 559.278.8807 or

(Copy by University Communications student news assistant Nicole Maul.)

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