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For Many Teens, Addiction Starts In the Medicine Cabinet

February 26, 2014

It’s been reported that 24% of high school students, or more than 5 million teens, have abused prescription drugs. This is a 33% increase from 2008. [1]

Yes, adolescents abuse prescription drugs more than just about any other substance, second only to marijuana as the most popular form of illegal drug use. So how is it that most parents find time to talk to their children about marijuana, alcohol and other drugs, yet only about 15% are as thorough as they need to be when it comes to prescription drug warnings? [2] Many professionals believe that the most commonly abused prescriptions, which include Vicodin, Xanax and OxyContin, would not be abused by so many kids if more parents took a bolder stance on the issue.

According to the Huffington Post, “Teens think their parents aren’t as concerned about prescription drugs as illicit drugs and, as the Partnership study points out, they’re right. Sixteen percent of parents said they think prescription drugs are safer than street drugs. A significant number of parents (20%) admitted to giving their teens prescription medications they had on hand even though their child didn’t have a prescription for it. About half of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them from their parents’ medicine cabinet.”

That’s right — many teens simply head to the medicine cabinet to use, steal or sell prescriptions. This makes them free, readily available and easily accessible.

However, parents don’t need to remove otherwise necessary, legitimate prescriptions from the home altogether — it’s about making them more difficult for your child to obtain them. Many parents face a never ending struggle when they try to keep all harmful objects out of their child’s reach. Prescription drugs are clearly a temptation for teens, so it’s best to keep these pills locked away in a safe place. Other tips:

  • Talk to your child about the dangers of prescription pill abuse, and also the specific medications found in your own home.
  • Monitor prescription drugs in the home.
  • Keep the prescriptions at your work office, and lock them up.
  • Communicate. A well-educated, prepared teen will be more able to say no to drugs and dangerous teen trends.
  • Be a good listener. Don’t be on the offensive.
  • Familiarize yourself with your child’s friends, acquaintances and social activities; just because prescriptions aren’t accessible in your home doesn’t mean your child can’t obtain them from peers and drug dealers.

We’ll be discussing this epidemic in a series of installments, which will cover warning signs for teen prescription drug abuse, ADHD and its subsequent medication, OTC drugs and more.



[2] Huffington Post

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