Where are many teens getting their drugs from today? Drug dealers? Friends?
How about your bathroom medicine cabinet.
If you watch some of the American television networks, you may have seen the commercials by Drug Free America with the teen showing his large collection of pills in a school lunch room. It has been recently reported that every day as many as 2,500 youth age 12 to 17 abuse a pain reliever for the very first time. That is a DAILY figure, not an annual figure, which to me sounds like an alarming rate.
Think about the typical medicine cabinet of an elderly person. I remember my grandmother took as many as 5-8 pills a day for various things. Just think of all the medications available – watch an hour television show and you will see ads for many that may be in your medicine cabinet, such as for cholesterol lowering pills, heart pills, blood thinners – there are too many to name.
These teens don’t know what these drugs can do to them and experiment anyways. With the names of these medications, I hardly doubt that many actually know what they are taking in reality.
Many parents talk about the dangers of illegal drugs, but how many talk about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are readily available. Many youth think that these drugs are the safe alternative to illegal drugs and that they are less harmful then illegal drugs. Fact is, depending on how they are taken, these drugs can be just as harmful.
When do these young people start taking these easily obtainable drugs? According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the United States, among 12- and 13-year-olds, prescription drugs are the drug of choice. The same survey also reported that In 2006, more than 2.1 million teens ages 12 to 17 reported abusing prescription drugs.
What can these drugs do? The Partnership for Drug-free America reports the following:
There are serious health risks related to abuse of prescription drugs. A single large dose of prescription or over-the-counter painkillers or depressants can cause breathing difficulty that can lead to death. Stimulant abuse can lead to hostility or paranoia, or the potential for heart system failure or fatal seizures. Even in small doses, depressants and painkillers have subtle effects on motor skills, judgment, and ability to learn.
The abuse of OTC cough and cold remedies can cause blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, coma, and even death. Many teens report mixing prescription drugs, OTC drugs, and alcohol. Using these drugs in combination can cause respiratory failure and death.
Prescription and OTC drug abuse is addictive. Between 1995 and 2005, treatment admissions for prescription painkillers increased more than 300 percent
~ From Parents: The Anti-Drug
So what should parents be doing? Parents, grandparents, caregivers, etc should keep an eye on all their medications and look for suspicious signs that someone else may be taking them. Keep track of the amounts of the pills you have.
Also make sure to dispose of expired or medications no longer needed properly. The best way it to do it discreatly such as by mixing them with coffee grounds or within other things you throw away.
Most importantly, TALK to your youth about the dangers of taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs. This is one of the best things you can do.
For more information of ways to safeguard your teens or what to do if you suspect they abusing prescription or over-the-counter drugs, check out the Parents:The Anti-Drug website at www.theantidrug.com.