The University of New Mexico’s College School of Pharmacy has received the 2015 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for its efforts to educate residents of New Mexico about the misuse and abuse of prescription medications.
Frank Fisher, media coordinator for the FBI's Albuquerque Division, said the award was in recognition of UNM’s contributions to the improvement of life standards of the people of New Mexico.
He said that, every year, each of the FBI’s 56 field offices select an individual or organization to receive the award, which recognizes contributions toward crime and violence prevention, education and awareness programs, and efforts to enhance cooperation between law enforcement and all citizens.
Nicole Perea, a graduate student at the UNM College of Pharmacy, said the pharmacy program was chosen based off of the work done with the Generation Rx initiative.
“Generation Rx is a student-led initiative whose main goal is to educate New Mexican’s about the misuse and abuse of prescription medications,” she said.
Perea said researchers at the College of Pharmacy were focused on prevention and education.
She said she and Fisher’s colleagues want to give fellow New Mexicans the tools and knowledge about prescription medications that will help them make the best decisions for their health.
“Instead of scare tactics, our presentations are more focused on relaying accurate information. We do this mainly in the form of an interactive presentation,” she said.
Perea said the researchers are collaborating with different partners to make these efforts successful.
“As it is a collaborative effort, this would be impossible to do without our many community partnerships! With their help, we are able to reach parts of our community that we otherwise would never have access to,” she said.
She said that her and Fisher's colleagues are working on several projects to achieve their goals.
“One project we have been working on is making our presentations more specific to at risk groups in New Mexico. Our most recent is an athletic presentation. Albuquerque high schools were spotlighted in Sports Illustrated last summer for heroin overdoses that began as an addiction to prescription medications,” she said.
Perea said the presentations educate on the risk factors and the warning signs of addiction specific to student athletes.
“We are getting very positive feedback on this new presentation and with the help of our community partnerships, we are hoping to get this presentation into more schools and athletic clubs,” she said.
Sayyed Shah is the assistant news editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mianfawadshah.