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Teen Prescription Drug Abuse - Keep Your Kids Safe
Abuse of prescription drugs to get high has become increasingly prevalent among teens and young adults. Past year abuse of prescription pain killers now ranks second—only behind marijuana—as the Nation's most prevalent illegal drug problem.
There are three classes of prescription drugs that are most commonly abused:
• Painkillers (prescribed to treat pain), including codeine, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, and brands such as Vicodin, Tylenol with Codeine, OxyContin, and Percocet.
• Depressants (prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders), including barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and brands such as Klonopin, Nembutal, Soma, Valium, and Xanax.
• Stimulants (mainly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD), including amphetamines, methylphenidate, and brands such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Ritalin.
Office of National Drug Control Policy
How You Can Help
The abuse of prescription drugs in teens is on the rise. They're easily accessible and parents need to take the appropriate precautions to protect their teens. If you have prescription drugs in the home that have the potential for abuse, monitor them. If you notice pills missing, talk to your kids. If you want to prevent your teen from taking them in the first place, purchase a pill case with a lock on it. There are many different types you can buy online or at your local pharmacy. My favorite is a plastic case that houses 4 entire prescription pill bottles and locks them all safely. This is the best defense against teen drug abuse in your home.
If you have relatives with a terminal illness, chances are they have prescription drugs in their home that teens are likely to abuse. If your child frequently visits a particular relative, you may want to give them a "heads up" to monitor their prescriptions or lock them up as I have suggested.
I know it sounds like I'm hinting that every teen is going to abuse drugs and steal from their relatives. That's not my intent. I just feel that the key to battling teen drug abuse is to prevent it from happening in the first place! Kids talk at school. Your teen may hear from others about a certain prescription drug they take to get high and realize it's the same one at home in your medicine cabinet. Would you store cocaine or heroin in your medicine cabinet and feel safe that it's within easy access of your children?
A Helpful Resource
Communicate with your teen about the harmful consequences of prescription drug abuse. Monitor their behavior and if you're concerned, talk to them. My parents never discussed drugs with me, but luckily I never thought to try them. I've always been too afraid! I love myself too much to take the chance of hurting my body or even killing myself by taking an illicit drug.
Have you found pills in your child's room or backpack? Unsure of what they are? Visit www.drugs.com. This site is an excellent resource for prescription drug information. They even have a handy little Pill Identifier. You enter the shape and color of the pill along with any imprint found on it (i.e. W 345) and it will tell you what medication it is and what it's used for. Priceless if you find pills in your child's room and have no idea where they came from or what they are!