A survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found parents are dropping the ball on preventing their kids from using drugs, drinking and smoking.
Teenagers surveyed said it’s easier to buy narcotics than beer. Nearly half the 17-year-olds in the survey said they have at least one friend who abuses prescription drugs.
Former 10th Judicial District Drug Task Force Director Mike Hall warns parents about the dangers of prescription drugs.
In an effort to raise the awareness of the dangers of prescriptions drugs, which most teens are exposed to in their home, law enforcement has been delivering the message to families that teens could be at risk.
“If meth was an epidemic than prescription drugs are the plague,” Hall said. “It’s law enforcement’s biggest problem and it comes in a little orange bottle.”
One study revealed three in five preteens and teens can leisurely get prescription painkillers from their own home. A report by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also revealed students who are trying drugs for the first time are getting high on prescription medications.
According to many law enforcement agencies, most of the prescription drug abusers get their medicine legitimately at first. Usually as a result of an injury they need something to help with pain or help them with healing. “When they notice the pain is gone and the feeling is pretty good, they go back for more and before they know it they are hooked,” Hall said. “It’s all sorts of people too — nurses, doctors and even police.”
Among the teen users, prescription pills are quickly becoming the choice because they seem more socially appropriate than drugs off of the streets.
PRESCRIPTIONS HAVE FOUND A WAY INTO TEEN CULTURE
Today, if you hear the phrase “Pharm Party,” it has nothing to do with a barn or farm animals. Sadly, it is a term referring to a potentially deadly and unhealthy party. Pharm is short for pharmaceuticals such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, Xanax, Valium, Prozac, Zoloft and other powerful pills.
According to Hall, kids risk their lives and anything goes at these Pharm Parties.
“Usually each one attending will bring a handful of random pills from their house or their friend or family member’s house and a trail mix concoction goes into the bowl or baggie which is passed around.”
It’s up to us parents and caretakers to make sure prescription medicines are monitored and disposed of properly. It’s also important to talk openly and often with our children.
TIPS FOR SAFEGUARDING PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Keep track: Take note of how many pills are in a bottle or pill packet, and keep track of refills.
Set rules: Set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider’s advice and dosage.
Follow rules: Be a good role model by following these rules with your own medicines.
Dispose of them properly: FDA guidelines for drug disposal are to follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug label which accompanies the medication. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.
If no instructions are given, throw the drugs in the household trash, but first: Take them out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. The medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash. Put them in a sealable bag, empty can or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.