Appreciative Inquiry – an innovative way to curb prescription drug abuse in colleges

Appreciative Inquiry - an innovative way to curb prescription drug abuse in colleges

The rise in prescription drug abuse, especially in students and teens, has emerged as one of the fastest growing problems in the United States. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), with approximately 1.7 million students aged 18 to 25 years using prescription drugs without any medical purpose, the group became the second highest to abuse prescription drugs in 2011.

Further studies revealed that approximately 90 percent of the students abused Adderall, a medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. The rise in such an abuse is mainly attributed to the culture of selling or sharing prescribed medicines among peers. The surge in prescription drug abuse among students has forced researchers and experts in the field of medical science to explore solutions to mitigate its effects.

While experts are exploring techniques and methods to reduce use, a study conducted in New Hampshire and published in the Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy in 2014 has shown Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to be an effective strategy in decreasing prescription drug abuse on college campuses.

Understanding AI

The technique of AI was developed in the 1980s by David Cooperrider, a 1979 doctoral student at the Cleveland Clinic, an esteemed healthcare organization in the United States. The concept primarily deals with focusing on the positives and strengths of a community rather than on the weaknesses and problems. The identified positives are then used to determine a  solution to a problem that is concerning the community. AI primarily invites prevention experts and takes them “through several interactive and participatory phases designed to gather information, brainstorm ideas, and eventually deliver a strategic plan.”

In the study, AI was used by substance abuse prevention experts to identify the problem in the community that led to the surge in prescription drug abuse among  college students. According to the research, “The inquiry is cooperative and involves a systematic discovery of what gives life to a community and when it is most effective and capable in economic, ecological and human terms.”

AI used for university study

The study, conducted in 2013, involved  47 participants, who were invited via email and in person during class sessions. Among the participants, 98 percent were white and 83 percent were female. Additionally, nearly 62 percent were undergraduate students and the remaining 38 percent consisted of faculty and administrators from residential life, campus safety, student affairs, the multicultural affairs office, the campus health and wellness center and community-based substance abuse prevention organizations.

The entire study involved four 90-minute sessions held on four separate evenings on the college campus over a period of three weeks. All participants were 18 years or older. All of the study subjects consented to participate  and were interested in understanding the cause and prevalence of prescription drug abuse in the community.

The study proved AI to be useful in developing an innovative and relatively new method of inquiry into the subject of abuse prevention. The outcome of the study can be helpful in devising strategies and tools to discourage prescription drug abuse among students. Also, experts can further differentiate forms and methods using AI to create awareness among the students regarding the hazards of prescription drug abuse.

Road to recovery from prescription drug abuse

In addition to students, prescription drug abuse is also growing among  women and elderly people in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been a 200 percent rise in opioid overdose deaths since 2000. A 2014 CDC report stated that nearly 46 people die from prescription painkiller overdose in the U.S. every day. Prolonged drug abuse can cause not only obvious changes in behavior and personality but also irritability, restlessness, and anxiety. It is important to seek medical intervention for addiction as soon as possible.

If you or your loved one is addicted to any kind of drug, including prescription drugs and is seeking treatment, you may contact the California Prescription Abuse Helpline for information about various prescription drug rehabs in California. You may also call  our 24/7 helpline number (855) 738-2770 or chat online to learn about  the best drug rehab centers in California.