If you walk into some homes, you’ll likely find prescription drugs haphazardly strewn on the kitchen counter, or another easily accessible area. We all know to keep medicine away from young children and toddlers, but what about older children and teenagers?
There’s a misconception that older kids and teenagers should “know better” and that having prescription drugs around the house isn’t dangerous. The reality is that prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are increasingly being misused by teens as recreational party drugs.
Prescription Drug Abuse
As prescription drugs are easily accessible at home or through friends’ parents, many kids have turned to abusing prescription drugs as a quick and easy “high.” Many kids perceive prescription meds to be safer than illicit street drugs, however, this mindset has led many to overdose. The New York State Department of Health discovered that more visits to the emergency room are due to prescription drug abuse than both heroin and marijuana combined.
Here are a few alarming statistics:
- 4.5 million kids in the U.S. have abused prescription drugs.
- Cough syrup has been intentionally abused by 2.1 million American children.
- One-third of teens have a friend that abuses prescription painkillers.
- One-quarter of teens have a friend that uses cough syrup to get high.
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
Do you have these drugs lying around your home? Here are a few of the most commonly abused prescription drugs:
- Addictive narcotics and opiates such as Vicodin® and OxyContin®.
- Stimulants such as Ritalin® or Adderall®.
- Cough syrup or medicine.
How to Store Your Prescription Drugs
The best way to safely store your prescription drugs is up and away and inside a secure, locked cabinet. There are many medicine cabinets on the market today specifically designed to keep kids and teenagers away from your prescription meds.
If you have old, expired drugs, safely dispose of them. Flushing them down the toilet or sink is usually not safe. Check your area for a local drug take-back program.
Educate Your Kids About the Dangers of Prescription Drugs
Many of the teenagers and kids who abuse prescription drugs have never been educated about the dangers of them by parents. Having a simple conversation about the effects of abusing prescription drugs with your children is one of the best preventative measures you can take. Dispel the myth that prescription drugs are safer than other types of drugs. Other things to do include:
- Set a positive example. Take your medications only as prescribed to set a good example.
- Stay involved. Have daily conversations with your children about their school day and their friends, especially during the ‘trying’ teenage years. Help your children think of things they can say if a friend ever tries to entice them with using prescription drugs.
Education and awareness are simple, yet effective ways to prevent prescription drug abuse by kids. If you need to speak with someone about prescription drug abuse, call us at Beachside Rehab today at 866-349-1770.