How Parents Can Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

Recent surveys show that teens are abusing prescription medications in record numbers. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 70 percent of children age 12 and older say they got prescription drugs, not from a drug dealer, but from a friend or relative.

For teens, peer pressure or wanting to escape emotional stress can lead to experimentation, which can in turn lead to abuse, addiction and sometimes to a drug overdose.

“Each day, more than 2,000 teens begin abusing prescription medications, believing that doctor-prescribed medicine is safer to experiment with than illegal drugs,” says Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “Prescription medications can be very helpful when used as directed, but misusing or abusing these drugs can be dangerous and even deadly.”

Parents, teachers and other adults who influence teen behavior stand the best chance of recognizing and dealing with these dangerous behaviors. “Parents and grandparents take great pains to prevent poisoning in young children by keeping household chemicals out of the reach,” according to Pasierb. “The same approach needs to be taken to safeguard medications in the home.”

The first step is to get informed about the dangers and know how to intervene when you suspect or know that a child is abusing drugs. The web site www.RxSafetyMatters.org provides information and resources to parents and community groups on how to prevent prescription drug abuse.

Tips for parents include:

•    Learn to recognize the signs of abuse. Warning signs include sudden mood swings, changes in social circles, secretive behavior, excessive sleeping and a loss of interest in appearance or hobbies. Symptoms often occur in clusters.

•    Monitor your medications. Keep a detailed record of which prescription drugs you have in your home and the remaining number of pills. Store your medications in a secure location. If you have medications that you no longer need or have expired, dispose of them properly.

•    Educate others. Talk to your relatives, neighbors and other parents in households where your children spend time. Grandparents’ homes are frequently a source of pills, simply because older people take more medications. Talk to the PTA at your teen’s school, and encourage others to take preventive steps to prevent prescription drug abuse.

•    Talk to your children, and listen for clues. Make sure your children understand the dangers of misusing prescription medications – but avoid providing information about which drugs are popular to abuse. Listen to your kids, and always ask these questions: “Who are they meeting, what will they be doing, and where will they be?”

To learn more about how to prevent prescription drug abuse, download the free Parents Guide to Understanding Prescription Drug Abuse at www.RxSafetyMatters.org. Purdue Pharma L.P. developed www.RxSafetyMatters.org as a public service to help combat prescription drug abuse.

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