Every day in America 2,500 kids ages 12 to 17 abuse a prescription pain reliever for the very first time. Where do they get the prescription drugs? Over 70% of these youth obtained pain relievers from a relative or friend. Next to marijuana, prescription medications are the most common illegal drug used by teens to get high. The number of teens going into treatment for addiction to prescription pain relievers has increased by more than 300% since 2000.
Because these drugs are so readily available and many teens believe they are a safe way to get high, teens who wouldn’t otherwise touch illicit drugs (cocaine, heroin, LSD) might abuse prescription (Rx) drugs – and not many parents are talking to them about the dangers. It’s time to lock the lid on Prescription (Rx) and Over-the-Counter (OTC) to prevent drugs getting into the wrong hands!
Teens say they abuse Rx painkillers because they believe the myth that they are safer to use than illicit drugs, there is less shame attached to using them, they believe there are fewer side effects than illicit drugs, and parents don’t care as much if youth get caught.
Teens report that parental disapproval is a powerful means of keeping them away from drugs. What can you do as a parent? Think about your home – what Rx and OTC drugs do you have? Where are they kept? Would you know if some were missing? You can take steps immediately to limit access to these drugs and help keep your teen drug free.
Unsecured Rx drugs can be as dangerous as having a loaded gun in your home. Talk to your teen about the dangers of abusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These are powerful drugs that, when abused, can be just as dangerous as street drugs. Be sure your teen knows the risks far outweigh any “benefits” and it is illegal to use a prescription that is not written for you. Also, it is a felony to intentionally give your own or anyone else’s prescription medication to another person.
For information on how to dispose of your prescription medications go to www.fda.gov or, more specifically, http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm101653.htm. If you are unsure what to do with your unused prescription medications there is a prescription medication drop box located in the Stevens County Courthouse just outside of the law enforcement offices.
You can find more information and resources at www.drugfree.org.