NEW YORK — Walgreens has launched #ItEndsWithUs, a new campaign to educate teens nationwide about the nation’s opioid crisis.
The campaign was unveiled by actor Brandon Larracuente of the popular Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” and “Bloodline,” who lost a close friend to the opioid epidemic. He spoke to an audience of more than 6,000 youth at the WE Day UN event at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
The #ItEndsWithUs initiative provides teens with resources and positive steps they can take in their community, all available at the #ItEndsWithUs online hub. At the site, visitors are greeted with a message from Larracuente and a personal testimonial from Francesca Paparone, a young woman who overcame her addiction and is working with Walgreens to raise awareness.
In their messages, both Paparone and Larracuente will speak about Walgreens’ safe medication disposal program that began in 2016.
“I have personally been affected by the opioid epidemic. My friend was only 19 when she died, and it only took one wrong, risk-taking decision to cost her her life,” Larracuente said in a statement. “I’m honored to work with Walgreens to raise awareness of the issue with my generation and let them know of the resources the company has made available to customers nationwide. This epidemic ends with our generation.”
Walgreens said it will continue to raise awareness around the opioid epidemic at upcoming WE Day events in 2018, with the help of Larracuente engaging teens across the country.
The Walgreens medication disposal kiosks enable people to safely and conveniently dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medications — prescription drugs (including controlled substances) and over-the-counter medicines — year-round at no cost.
Walgreens said it has deployed kiosks at more than 600 pharmacies in 45 states and the District of Columbia, more than 100 kiosks above the program’s original goal. In its first year, the program resulted in the collection and disposal of 72 tons of unwanted medication, or the equivalent weight of about 40 midsize cars. The drug disposal kiosks are available during regular pharmacy hours.
The drug chain noted that #ItEndsWithUs launches at a time when the national opioid crisis has escalated into an epidemic of addiction and overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths among 15- to 19-year-olds spiked over 19% between 2014 and 2015. The CDC also found that nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.