People want to know -- Why do kids abuse rx drugs and how are they getting them?
Teenagers turn to prescription drugs because they perceive them as less dangerous than illegal drugs. They abuse prescription drugs because they are easily accessible, and either free or inexpensive. In fact, 64 percent of kids age 12 to 17 who have abused pain relievers say they got them from their friends or relatives, typically without their knowledge. National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) president Joseph Califano says parents can be "passive pushers" by not taking care of their drugs.
Most would find it surprising to know that more teens now say it's easier for them to acquire prescription drugs — usually powerful painkillers — than it is to buy beer, according to the 13th annual survey on attitudes about drug abuse from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. (Janet Kornblum, "Prescription Drugs More Accessible To Teens Than Beer," USA Today, August 14 2008)
Teens still say it's easiest to buy cigarettes and marijuana. But for the first time, they say prescription drugs not prescribed to them are easier to get than beer, the survey says.
Their main source of drugs such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin and Ritalin: "the medicine cabinet," says Elizabeth Planet, director of special projects for CASA. "Another big source of these drugs are their friends."
What Teens Say About Prescription Drugs
"They're FDA-regulated, so they have to be a little safer than other illegal drugs."
"There is a pain medicine that's popular with the athletes ... some of the guys on the team could be in excruciating pain ... they take two of those and go out and practice ... it's no big deal"
"People use medicine for ADHD when you need to stay awake for a test—it's best in the morning when you wake up tired."
"I took some of my mom's water pills to help me lose weight for wrestling."
"I have a couple of friends with ADD who have prescriptions. One will always have an extra I can bum."
"I take pills to not think about problems, school, girlfriends or anything at the time … just be in your own state of mind."
"Prescription stimulants help you focus, like if you have to write an essay."
"Why would I take an over-the-counter acetaminophen? A prescription sedative is so much cooler."
"Narcotic pain relievers give me energy. It's the only way I can clean the house."
"When you're on tranquilizers, you don't feel like you're tripping. You're in chill mode. It makes you feel not bored, but not too busy either."
"[I take pills] to slow down because sometimes I'm sad about something and don't want to think about it all the time."
("Not In My House," created by Abbott and The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Drugfree.org, 2011)
What Can People Do To Protect Their Children?
Every day, 2,500 teenagers use a prescription drug to get high for the first time. They often access these drugs at home -- from a cupboard, a drawer, or a medicine cabinet. Parents and caretakers can protect youth from prescription drug abuse by following three important steps: remember monitor, secure, and dispose.
1. Monitor - taking note of all prescription medications, keeping track of refills, controlling and monitoring dosages.
2. Secure - keeping prescription medications in a safe place (a locked cabinet that teens cannot access).
3. Dispose - properly discarding expired or unused prescription drugs (when teens are not home).
Remember To Talk About Prescription Medicines
Only one-third of parents discuss the risks of abusing prescription medicines with their teens. Yet, Partnership for a Drug Free America says youth who learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs. The Partnership group offers these suggestions:
- In conversations with your teen about drugs, be sure to include prescription drug abuse and why it's harmful. Tell them that taking prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs without a doctor's approval and supervision can be a dangerous—even deadly—decision. Dispel the myth that these drugs are less harmful than street drugs because they are available through a doctor or at the local drug store.
- If you hear about another teenager getting caught abusing prescription drugs, calmly approach your teen about it. It's important to not react in any way that cuts off further discussion.
- Be flexible about when you talk, but not about whether you talk.
- Remember: silence isn't golden. It's permission.
Please Check Out This Site
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Get complete information (print/video) here: http://notinmyhouse.drugfree.org/default.aspx
From the Montana Department of Justice, www.doj.mt.gov.