Help Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse Among Teens

The Drugs Are Coming From Inside the House: The Scary Reality of Prescription Medication Abuse

generationrxWhen some people first hear the term War on Drugs they still probably picture a heroin junkie, maybe a drug lord, some syringes or maybe even a frying egg in the memorable, age-old “This is your brain on drugs” Public Service Announcement.

What people don’t usually think of is their bathroom. They don’t think of the cabinet behind the mirror or the top drawer. They don’t think of the places where their prescriptions sit unprotected. This can potentially be a deadly oversight, especially for parents.

Prescription drug misuse is no new threat, but it is a threat that tends to fly under the radar at home, even despite all of the efforts to educate parents and teenagers alike. The pills are perceived to be less dangerous than street drugs since they come from doctors and are often widely available. For this reason, it is just as important now as ever to take action against the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, especially in teens. Fortunately, as this problem grows, we are presented with more and more tools to educate the public and prevent misuse.

According to Ohio State researchers, someone dies from intentional use and subsequent overdose of prescription drugs every 19 minutes. In 2007, The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy created the Generation Rx initiative to specifically address the dangers of abuse when it comes to pharmaceuticals.

The program offers free informational tool kits aimed at specific audiences. The university holds conferences and workshops that are designed to share Ohio State’s research with the public in an interesting and informative way.

Online, the Generation Rx website provides medication safety and prescription drug abuse prevention education for schools, colleges and communities. By expanding the program to the national level, the partners hope to increase awareness and decrease the alarming rates of misuse and overdose in the US.

A year after Generation Rx was created, Abbott and Partnership for a Drug-Free America launched the campaign “Not In My House” to help parents secure their homes from teen prescription drug abuse. The campaign was sparked after a 2007 national survey uncovered some startling facts. To paraphrase, the survey showed that 70% of teens who reported abusing prescription medications (1-in-5) got the medications in their own home or from a family-member and believe there is no harm in taking them once in a while.

Now, six to seven years later, we continue to see teens overdose on prescription drugs, commonly mixed with alcohol or over-the-counter drugs. We also continue to see addicts make the shift from prescription drug use to heroin use. The main difference between heroin and a drug like Oxycontin is the time-release effect of oxycodone, allowing the pill to relieve pain over a long period of time. Drug users, however, would simply crush the pill, snort it or inject it, and experience an immediate high similar to heroin.

Opioid pain relievers such as Vicodin (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen), Oxycontin (oxycodone HCI), Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen), codeine, and morphine are all derived from the same natural substances as heroin. When heroin is cheap and available, it too often serves as the logical next step for many who are already dependent on painkillers.

Prescription drug abuse isn’t limited to painkillers. There is an increasingly wider range of medications being misused among teenagers and adults as well. These drugs include stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, sleeping pills like Ambien, sedatives such as Xanax or Valium and many, many others.

To aid in the fight against prescription drug abuse in teens, take a note from and monitor your prescriptions, secure your bottles and dispose of your drugs in a safe manner. Click here for more details on how to keep your prescription drugs – and the people around you – safe.