Dallas Gay describes his grandson, Jeffrey, as energetic and friendly.
“He didn’t meet a stranger, he was about 6 feet, 5 tall, played basketball, big smile, loved music, and hugged everybody he met,” Gay said with a smile.
While in high school, Jeffrey used prescription painkillers for recreational use, and rapidly became addicted.
“Most everyone like myself, or Jeffrey’s parents, didn’t have any idea what it was about. That it was a progressive disease,” Gay explains.
After struggling for years, Jeffrey died in 2012 at age 21.
Dallas Gay is now a co-founder for “Think About It,” a campaign aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse.
“The public doesn’t understand that twice as many folks abuse prescription drugs than the drugs such as cocaine and heroin,” said Attorney General Sam Olens.
Olens said last year in Bibb County alone, 345,000 prescriptions for painkillers were issued.
That’s more than two prescriptions for every person in the county.
“The accessibility is a problem,” said District Attorney Michael J. Moore, “The fact that kids may think that because a doctor prescribed them to somebody that they’re not as dangerous. We find them at parties, we’re hearing about kids taking them to school.”
According to the CDC, the most common prescription pills that were abused in 2011 were painkillers, like oxycodone or morphine.
Gay says there are ways to prevent teenagers from trying them.
He says to take your medicines only as prescribed, to not share them with other people, to store them where other people don’t have access to them, and to dispose of them when you’re finished.
Gay also stresses that Georgia’s 911 Amnesty Law grants immunity to some people who call seeking medical help if they overdose on a drug.
For Gay, Jeffrey’s death is a reminder to teach other teens about the risk.
“If we could get that cheer to go up from school to school to school, ‘We’re just not gonna take it’, then we’ll win,” Gay said, “We’ll win a lot of victories.”
Attorney General Sam Olens launched a statewide contest where high schoolers can win an iPad for encouraging drug abuse prevention.
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This post originally appeared on 13wmaz.com