Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's in Your Medicine Cabinet? Teens and Rx Drug Abuse

Drug abuse. We all have a vision of the shady drug dealer doing a quick, furtive transaction in a darkened doorway, restroom or wooded park. Sometimes that’s how drugs are accessed… but not always. Did you ever picture Grandma as a source of drugs for your teen? Or his little brother? Or maybe you? Where’s one of the most likely places that your teenager gets drugs? Right in your home, while you’re there making dinner or watching TV together. Believe it or not, many ‘good homes’ provide a ready stockpile of the drugs that teens abuse… right in the medicine cabinet.  It’s in the family bathroom, centrally located.

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...

1 comment:

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