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Not On My Watch – #5 Prescription Drug Abuse

Parents, Grandparents, and pretty much all families have prescription drugs in their home. This makes prescription drugs readily accessible for anyone to abuse. 1 in 5 children have abused prescription medicines. According to the CDC, every day 2,000 teenagers use prescription drugs to get high.

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are more likely to abuse prescription drugs than they would cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and ecstasy combined. More than 70% of teenagers say that they obtain the drugs from family members and friends. The most common abused drug between the ages of 12 and 13 are prescription medicines.

What drugs are the most abused and most popular with teenagers? The categories of drugs are: Stimulants, Depressants, Hallucinogens, and Opiates/Opioid

Examples of Central Nervous System Stimulants are: Cocaine, Caffeine, Amphetamines, Ritalin, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Adderall.

People with ADHD are often prescribed stimulants like Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall to help with concentration and to keep them focused. Teens abuse these types of drugs to get high, to loose weight, and/or to stay awake and alert. Many students will abuse this medication during long hours of studying, trying to maintain alertness and concentration during long study times. Abusing this medicine has the same dangers as using cocaine. Because abusers will tend to crush the medication and snort it, smoke it, or inject it, it will have the same effect on the brain. This increases abuse risks and addiction.

What symptoms to look for in my child? Abusing prescription stimulants will increase heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature. Abusers will also experience headaches, anxiety, seizures, nausea, and possibly stroke and heart failure.

Examples of Central Nervous System Depressants are: Alcohol, Barbiturates, and Sedatives. Valium, Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta.

People with anxiety and sleep disorders are often prescribed Valium, Xanax, or Ambien type drugs. These types of drugs are abused and are taken to cause a mellow or sedating affect. What should a parent look for in these types of prescription abuse? Similar to alcohol, these prescribed medications can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, lack of coordination, loss of inhibitions, fatigue, slowed heart rate, coma, and death. Addiction to these types of drugs can occur and withdrawals can be fatal if not monitored by professionals.

Examples of Opiates and Opioids: Opiates are any naturally occurring chemical found in poppy plants and is used to make morphine. Heroin and Codeine are examples of opiates derived from Morphine. Prescribed Opioids would be medication like, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Methadone. If you see “one” or “ine” at the end of your prescribed medication it is probably an Opioid or an Opiate.

Opiates and Opioids are prescribed to control pain, and help with relaxation.

What should a parent look for if their child is abusing these types of medications? Nausea and vomiting, very sleepy all the time, itching, dry mouth, constipation, shallow breathing, slowed heart rate, seizures, coma, death are all possible with abusing these medications. Addiction to these types of drugs can occur and withdrawals could be deadly if not monitored by professionals.

How do we keep our children from getting access to these medications?

  • Monitor
  • Secure
  • Dispose

When you bring your prescription home from the pharmacy,  take an inventory of what you have in the pill bottles. Be aware of how many pills you have taken and how many you are suppose to have left. Secure your prescriptions in a location that can be locked or a place that is not easily accessible to anyone other than you. When you are finished with the medicine dispose of them properly. Do not leave unused or expired medication in your medicine cabinet. Taking responsibility as a parent will help your child to not be tempted in taking your medicine because of curiosity or peer pressure.

Here are some of the street jargon that you might hear from your teen or friends of your child:

* Pharming: pronounced “farming” Getting high by taking medications from their parents

* Pharm Parties: Parties where teens bring prescription drugs from home and mix them in a bowl. This is called “trail mix”. They grab a handful of the mix regardless of what mixture is in the bowl

* Pilz: Pills prescribed or Over the Counter

* Recipe: Prescription drugs mixed with alcohol or other beverages.

Our first step to protect our children from the risks of prescription drug abuse is communication. We need to be proactive rather than reactive. The more we can educate ourselves as parents the easier it is to communicate with our kids.

Awareness is our responsibility!

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