So, what's sitting around in your medicine cabinet? Did someone in your family have dental surgery and there are a few leftover painkillers that weren't needed? Or does Grandma have some arthritis medicine stored there? How about Mom’s anti-anxiety medication or little Johnny’s medication for ADHD? Is someone taking antidepressants? According to the 2010 National Institute on Drug Abuse's Monitoring the Future survey, after marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most of the top drugs abused by 12th graders in the past year.
Medications have their advantages, that’s why we take them. While prescribed medications can prevent illness, relieve pain or control chronic health conditions, they are drugs. They shouldn’t be taken when not prescribed by a doctor for a specific condition, in excessive dosages, or in combination with alcohol or other drugs. Teens aren’t the only ones who misuse prescription drugs. An estimated 20% of people have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Many teens abuse prescription drugs because:
- They elicit physical responses that may be desirable for achieving a high or numbing unpleasant feelings.
- They’re legal.
- Teens perceive that because they’re prescribed for medical conditions that they’re safe.
- They’re easily accessible… and often can be obtained free.
One of the best ways to address prescription drug abuse is simply to limit access to these medications. That means keeping them locked up and accessible only to the person for whom they are prescribed, and properly disposing of unused medications (this also helps keeps the environment healthy). So maybe it’s time for a bit of Spring cleaning in the family medicine cabinet. Here's some help with the Spring cleaning...