Teens Getting Prescription Drugs from Friends and Family
Two-thirds of teens who abuse prescription drugs are getting them from friends and family, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
Unfortunately, not only has prescription drug abuse reached epidemic proportions, but it has been proven to lead to heroin and other opioid abuse. Some common sense measures like utilizing a medication lock box can provide a layer of prevention.
In recent studies, the National Institutes of Health stated that “nearly half of young people who inject heroin reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.” In fact, as the following video clip explains, some of the teens reported switching to heroin because it was actually cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription opioids.
In addition, unintentional poisoning deaths from prescription opioids have quadrupled over the last few years and now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined.
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What To Do?
To make sure the teens in your life don’t have access to your prescription drugs, the Partnership recommends the following three-step plan:
Step 1: Monitor Your Medications
Because prescription medicine is commonly found in the home, family members are in an influential position to immediately help reduce teen access to these drugs. But in order to do so, you must be aware of the quantities of prescription drugs currently in your home.
For instance, would you know if some of your pills were missing? Take note of how many pills are in each of your prescription bottles or pill packets.
Keep track of your refills for both yourself and the other members of your household. If you’re noticing the need to refill your medication more often than expected, that could be a red flag.
Be sure you control any medicines prescribed for your teen, and monitor dosages and refills. Be particularly vigilant with medicines that are known to be addictive and/or commonly abused by teens.
Make sure your friends and relatives — especially grandparents — are also aware of the risks. Encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicines. Do the same for the families of your child’s friends.
Step 2: Secure Medication in a Medical Lock Box
You’ll want to secure your prescriptions the same way you would other valuables in your home, like jewelry or cash. This means taking prescription meds out of the medicine cabinet and placing them somewhere that only you have access to.
A medication lock box or medical cabinet that can lock is ideal to limit access solely to yourself.
Make sure relatives, especially grandparents, lock their medicines in medication cabinet or medical lock box. Talk to the parents of your teenager’s friends and encourage them to secure their medications with a medication lock box also.
With the current issues in medication abuse, it is more important than ever to lock up your pain medication and other medicine to prevent access. McShane Metal Products provide high-quality medication lock box manufacturing services in order to provide every customer with a sturdy constructed medication lock box made from 20 gauge galvanized steel.
(See related article, “Medications: Leading Cause of Accidental Poisoning Deaths in Children.”)
Step 3: Dispose of Old Medicine Properly
Safely disposing of expired or unused medicine is a critical step in helping to protect your teens. In order to do so, you’ll need to take an inventory of all of the medicine in your locked cabinet then begin discarding expired or unused prescriptions as well as over-the-counter meds.
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has organized a safe drug disposal program to assist in the proper disposal of prescription drugs.
If neither of these options are available to you, you can make the prescription drug unusable my mixing it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and then discarding it. (Unless the directions on the packaging indicate otherwise, do not flush medicine down the drain or toilet.)
One last thing you’ll want to do when disposing of your prescription drugs: Remove any personal, identifiable information from bottles or pill packages before you throw them away.
This will help prevent unauthorized refills while protecting the privacy of you and your family.