Would you notice if you were missing any of those prescription pain relievers leftover from your surgery last summer? Do you even know how many pills are in those bottles in the back of your bathroom cabinet?
Prescription drugs are the one of the most commonly misused substances by teens and two-thirds of teens who have misused pain relievers said they got them from family and friends.
Misusing prescription drugs can lead to addiction and side effects, including overdose.
A common misperception is that prescription drugs are safer or less harmful to 'one’s body than other kinds of drugs. However, there is a range of short- and long-term health consequences for each type of prescription drug used inappropriately:
· Stimulants have side effects in common with cocaine, and may include paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, and an irregular heartbeat, especially if stimulants are taken in large doses or in ways other than swallowing a pill.
· Opioids, which act on the same parts of the brain as heroin, can cause drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and, depending on the amount taken, slowed breathing.
· Depressants can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, fatigue, disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures upon withdrawal from chronic use.
These impacts can be particularly harmful to a developing adolescent brain and body. Our brains continue to develop until we reach our early- to mid-twenties.
Additional symptoms of prescription medication misuse include:
Secretiveness, prescriptions you don’t recognize, sleep or appetite changes, sudden weight loss, extreme mood swings.
**Every teen is different, so your teen may not show all signs and remember that there could also be a legitimate underlying medical cause unrelated to drug use.
Lock them up tight!
Safely storing medications like opioids and disposing of old drugs reduce the easy access to these dangerous substances.
Child resistant caps are not enough, especially to deter a teenager. And, if you’re in a hurry, you could forget to tighten the cap.
The best protection is a medicine cabinet that locks. You could put a padlock on your existing cabinet or buy a small lockbox.
Small lockboxes typically cost about $20 and allow other family members access to the rest of the medicine cabinet.
Teens do listen to adults around them and you can have an impact – statistics prove it. Kids are 50% less likely to use or misuse drugs when their parents regularly discuss the dangers with them. Often, teens are more rational than we give them credit for and are receptive to positive influence even if they don’t outwardly express it. The truth is, young people are watching and listening to what the adults around them say. Because prescription drug use is often an overlooked way to misuse medications, about 1 in 4 teens actually believe their parents wouldn’t be too worried about prescription misuse. Your most potent weapon against misuse is starting the conversation.
Message: Prescriptions can be as addictive as illegal drugs
Talking Point: “A lot of people don’t know how addictive prescription medications can be. Sometimes they’re more addictive than illegal drugs.”
Message: Prescription medication isn’t inherently safe
Talking Point: “Prescriptions are given by doctors, who check your close to make sure it’s right for you. Any medication can become unpredictable or have unintended results even if you’ve used it before. That’s why you shouldn’t take a prescription unless it was written for you.”
Message: Drugs won’t help you do better at school
Talking Point: “Misusing prescription drugs isn’t a safe way to improve in sports or school. If you don’t have ADHD, taking Adderall (or a similar drug) won’t help because these medicines aren’t designed to boost the brain; they’re designed to treat ADHD.”