Showing posts with label Substance abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Substance abuse. Show all posts

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Talking to Your Teen About Prescription Drugs

What Parents Need to Know

October is the 27th national Talk About Prescriptions month. The annual event was created by the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), which seeks to raise awareness of the dangers prescription medications can pose when taken incorrectly. Helping parents to educate their teenagers about prescription and over-the-counter medication is a main goal of this organization. Talk About Prescriptions month was created to help consumers to be better informed about the need to use medicines properly and to discard of unused medications.

Some topics parents may need to talk about with their teens include:
  • Youth substance abuse
  • Addictions and different types of addiction
  • Substance misuse
  • The importance of patients’ adherence to dosage instructions
  • “Medicine cabinet dangers” – the risks of prescription or over-the-counter medication abuse or misuse


Why is this important?


Good question. And the answer is in the final bullet list item above: Medicine cabinet dangers, or the risks of improperly used prescription or over-the-counter medication. Medicine cabinet risks to teens take many forms, such as not taking medications as prescribed (under- or overdosing), taking prescription medicines not prescribed to the teen, or taking out-of-date medications (see our related article on this topic: Got Prescription Drugs? Get Rid of ‘em!).

It’s important for parents to consider that the average teen hasn’t had much experience with being responsible for their own health or medications. What we as parents think of as common sense may not be so obvious to our teens. And what little they do know about drugs is information they get from their peers, which may be incorrect or even dangerously wrong.


Starting the Conversation

Do scare tactics work? Typically, attempting to frighten your kids into not abusing drugs does not work, particularly if you cannot back up what you’re saying with facts. Kids today know that facts are available to them online faster than you can finish your first sentence on the matter. Thus, unsubstantiated claims can even backfire, undermining your credibility with your teens.

substance misuse
Substance abuse in teens
is a growing problem.
On the other hand, honest and accurate portrayals of the substance misuse or abuse risks can work very effectively. The Partnership for a Drug Free America has tips for how to start the conversation and what to say. Talk honestly about the negative physical and emotional effects of drugs, and on the rates of substance abuse in teens.

Also, stay involved in your teen’s prescribed use of drugs; sufficient parental supervision has been found to be a deterrent to illicit drug use in teens.

Beyond prescribed medications, stay alert to social conditions that influence your kids; know how, where, and with whom your teens hang out. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Connect with your teen’s friend’s parents. Limit access to medications in your own home by getting rid of unused medications and by locking up current prescriptions.


Addiction Symptoms– What to Look For 


While we all want to believe our children are trustworthy, it’s risky to assume that your teenager is not exposed to peer pressure or that they would not participate in risky behavior related to substance abuse or misuse.

Symptoms of youth substance abuse and addictions vary depending on the drug, but be on the lookout for any of the following:
  • Confusion
  • Irritability or sleepiness
  • Discolored fingertips (tobacco or marijuana use)
  • Redness of the whites of eyes
  • Aggressiveness
  • Excessive appetite
  • Lack of motivation
  • Changes in mood: excessive happiness/euphoria, fear, anger/rage
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Poor coordination
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea or vomiting


How to Get Help

What can you do if the problem is out of hand, or if you simply feel that you need help?
  • Your local school counselor or church pastor may be able to talk with your teen or provide you with literature that you can use when talking with your teen.
  • For help with understanding the potential risks of substance misuse, Google the phrase “stories about addiction” or “stories about teen drug addiction” to find stories about teen addiction to prescription, illegal, and over-the-counter drugs.
  • See the drug addition section of the Mayo Clinic website for statistics and guidance on identifying symptoms of substance misuse in your teen.
Make this month – the 27th national Talk About Prescriptions month – the time to talk with your teen about youth substance abuse, addictions and the importance of patient adherence to prescription drugs.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


Friday, September 28, 2012

Got Prescription Drugs? Get Rid of ‘em!

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day-September 29

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day This means that you can clean out your medicine cabinet with the assistance of the DEA (What is the DEA?).

To get rid of  unwanted, unused prescription drugs, simply go to your nearest designated collection site on Saturday, September 29, 2012. To find out more:
    safe disposal
    National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

  According to the DEA Enforcement, the last DEA-led National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 28th of this year resulted in a record-breaking 276 tons of unwanted or expired medications for safe disposal at the 5,659 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories.  

With that kind of success, the DEA believes that many more medicine cabinets have yet to be cleaned out of unwanted and expired medicines. We hope that, for your own safety and that of your family or home visitors, you take advantage of this opportunity to safely clean out your medicine cabinet.

Resources for more information

Importance of the Drug Take Back Initiative

Most people would have trouble believing that they harbor dangerous drugs in their own homes. But if you are storing unused, leftover prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet, or even if you just don't monitor your medicine cabinet, you could run into some real problems.

Teen substance abuse is a growing problem and many teens report abusing the prescription and over the counter drugs they find right in their home medicine cabinets.

  • Teen substance abuse of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin combined doesn't even come close to the number of teens abusing prescription drugs – the stuff they get right from their parents’ medicine cabinet – according to the White House Office of National Drug Control PolicyEvery day, 2,500 children between 12 and 17 years of age abuse a prescription painkiller for the first time.
  • Partnership for a Drug-Free America indicates that 10 percent of teenagers have abused common cough medicines such as Coricidin, dextromethorphan, or Robitussin by drinking the entire bottle’s contents or boiling down the medicine into a powder. The powder is sometimes added to other drugs, like Marijuana.

Partnership for a Drug Free America has tips for keeping you and your home safe.

"I have expired medications. They're not dangerous, right?"

In addition to the dangers of addiction when abusing prescribed narcotics, some expired medications could lose their potency. Expired prescription drugs can break down, especially if they are not stored in a dry place or in extreme temperatures. For example, many eye drops can develop harmful bacterial contamination that could harm you if you use them past their expiration date.

In addition to teen drug abuse, there is also an issue of elderly parents or grandparents using the wrong medication by mistake. Many elderly people suffer from dementia and could confuse their medications with those of family members. It's a good idea to make sure you only have what you need and what you are actually using in the medicine cabinet or drawer. This lowers the chance of a family member taking the wrong or expired drug.

Drug treatment admissions for prescription painkillers grew by greater than 300 percent in just five years (1995-2005), according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. 
medicine cabinets
Safe disposal of unused medication can prevent abuse or accidental dosage.

Many people flush medications down the toilet or throw them in the trash. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warns that flushed drugs end up in lakes, streams and in our water supply harming fish, wildlife and their habitats.  Throwing medications in the garbage is risky because either children or pets can get into them before the trash is picked up. 

Rik Moxley
Contributing Writer