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How can I protect my teen from prescription drug abuse?

David Vittoria, MSW
Addiction Medicine
Here are some basic steps to take:

Safeguard your medicine cabinet: Lock Your Meds. Take steps to protect your children by safeguarding all the medicines you have in your home. Know what you have and how much, so you will know if anything is missing. Safely discard medicines you no longer need.

Speak up: Talk to your kids about prescription and OTC cough medicine misuse. Teens listen, even if they act like they don’t. In fact, teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are half as likely to use drug.

Share: Exchange information at school meetings, community events and other parent gatherings. Circulate articles at your child’s school or write an editorial for the school newspaper. Blog and tweet about medicine safety. Post information on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Michele Borba
Psychology
One of the riskiest teen behaviors is right in your own medicine cabinet. More than 3.1 million teens ages 12 to 17 report abusing prescription drugs which is a particularly popular habit during exam time. One in ten teens say they have used Vicodin, a potentially habit-forming painkiller. OxyContin, stimulants like Ritalin, inhalers (all prescription medications) are also widely used. "Borrowing" prescription drugs from parents or siblings -- especially Ritalin-continues to be a hot trend.

Watch, count, and, if needed, "lock up" your medications. Also, check your credit card statement since teens admit that prescriptions drugs are easy to purchase online. Pharmacies and drug stores are now locking these medicines up to fight off kid theft.

Dangers: Taking and abusing any prescription drug can have potentially lethal consequences. When mixed with liquor they become a toxic combo.
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To reduce the risk of prescription pilfering, talk openly with your kid about the risks and dispose of medications you no longer need. Powerful prescription pain relievers, stimulants, sedatives, and tranquilizers are finding their way out of the medicine cabinet and into schools and “pharming” parties where children share, trade, and ingest prescription drugs.

Although open and honest dialogue about the dangers of drugs greatly reduces your child’s risk of abuse and addiction, peer pressure can be persuasive. Reduce the temptation in your own home by keeping over-the-counter and prescription medications safe from your kids and their friends.

Also, be aware that many medications such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Valium are easily obtained online. Often referred to as “pill mills,” these overseas Web sites are not monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and will provide pills to anyone with a credit card. Monitor your child’s online activity (and your credit card) as much as possible.

Abuse of prescription medications among teens is rising at an alarming rate, and many teens think that if you or another family member take it, it must be safe. Recreational use can be the gateway to addiction, overdose, or worse.

To reduce the risk of prescription pilfering, talk openly with your kids about the risks and dispose of medications you no longer need. Powerful prescription pain relievers, stimulants, sedatives, and tranquilizers are finding their way out of the medicine cabinet and into schools and “pharming” parties where children share, trade, and ingest prescription drugs.

Although open and honest dialogue about the dangers of drugs greatly reduces your child’s risk of abuse and addiction, peer pressure can be persuasive. Reduce the temptation in your own home by keeping over-the-counter and prescription medications safe from your children and their friends.

Also, be aware that many medications such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Valium are easily obtained online. Often referred to as “pill mills,” these overseas Web sites are not monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and will provide pills to anyone with a credit card. Monitor your child’s online activity (and your credit card) as much as possible.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.