Having the tough but important conversation about prescription drug abuse is the best way to prevent and recognize abuse in teens.
As a parent, it’s your job to start the conversation about prescription drugs with your teen. Helping them understand the dangers and risk will help to prevent future abuse and may help both you and your teen recognize ongoing abuse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services strongly recommends talking openly with your kids today.
When talking with your teen about prescription drugs, remember the three “R”s: respect, recognize, responsibility. Respect medication and use it correctly. Recognize that medication, even when used legally, has risks- risks that increase when drugs are abused. It is the Responsibility of the patient to safely and correctly take the prescribed medication. Reach out to a loved one at the first sign of abuse.
Explain to your teen that illegal drugs AND legal prescription medication can be harmful and dangerous. Prescription drugs are easily attained from your medicine cabinet or friends’ parent’s medicine cabinets. Keep medication in a safe place and avoid stockpiling. Always dispose of prescription drugs properly and provide a safe, open environment for your teen to talk about these issues with you.
Concerned your teen might be abusing prescription drugs? Talk to their doctor and look for signs of fatigue, secretiveness, and sudden mood changes. Other key signs are missing medication from the cabinet, filled pharmacy prescriptions that you did not order, and a decreased or obsessive interest in their schoolwork.
There are many reasons kids abuse prescription drugs. They are seeking physical or psychological pleasure, they are trying to fit in with their peers, or they simple believe that prescription medication is safer than illegal drugs and they do not understand the risks.
The good news is that parents can make a difference in their teen’s behavior. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, kids are 50% less likely to abuse prescription drugs after they’ve learned the risks and talked with trusted loved ones about the issue.
Under doctor supervision and when used correctly, prescription medicines are usually safe and effective.
For more information, please check out the following resources:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Helpline: 800-662-HELP (800-662-4357)
(Toll-Free) (English and Spanish) 800-487-4889 (TDD) (Toll-Free)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment Locator: http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment
- SAMHSA’s website: http://www.samhsa.gov
- SAMHSA’s Recovery Month website: http://www.recoverymonth.gov
- To order SAMHSA publications: http://store.samhsa.gov
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for Teens: 301-443-1124
- NIDA for Parents and Teachers: http://www.drugabuse.gov/parent-teacher.html
- FDA Safe Disposal of Unused Medication: http://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/ buyingusingmedicinesafely/ensuringsafeuseofmedicine/ safedisposalofmedicines/ucm186187.htm
- National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE): 301-340-3940 http://www.talkaboutrx.org