Every 17 minutes, someone dies from an opioid-related overdose. America’s youth is not immune to this epidemic. One in eight high school seniors admits to abusing prescription opioids. Fatal opioid-related overdoses among teens have spiked by almost 20 percent in just one year. Van’s Warped Tour founder, Kevin Lyman, has had enough and is partnering with the Preventum Initiative to combat opioid addiction among teens and young adults.
Warped Tour, which was founded in 1995, is the longest-running touring music festival in North America. Its past lineups include Green Day, Weezer, Blink-182 and No Doubt. It has also served as the stepping stone for musicians like Eminem and Katy Perry. Every summer, 20,000 young music lovers attend each concert stop. For its final tour, which starts in California on June 21st and ends in Florida on August 5th, Warped Tour’s goal is to not just entertain but also educate young attendees.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Lyman said educating youth about opioids and addiction is the first step, but he recognizes that getting them to truly engage can be a challenge. He hopes to be able to do so using his new app FEND (Full Energy, Not Drugs) which is part of his drug prevention empowerment campaign with Preventum Initiative.
The app follows a game-like format in which users follow a series of prompts and are rewarded (with anything from merch and discounts to free concert tickets) for their answers and interaction with the app. In the process, they learn critical information about opioids, including statistics, signs of an overdose, and what to do in the case of one. In the future, FEND hopes to be able to work closely with individuals in recovery as well as addiction counselors. A mental health element is also in the works.
But the FEND App is only part of it. Lyman also plans to carry his message against opioids to every tour stop this summer by holding discussions on addiction and distributing information at every show. In past years, Warped Tour has partnered with various non-profit organizations that have inspired the youth to get involved in a series of issues from animal rights to world hunger. Lyman believes that with the right information, the youth will realize that they need take a stand against opioids.