Who needs a dealer? The doctor supplies the drugs and family members allow easy access. With millions of stimulant prescriptions written each year for ADHD, these drugs are now readily available in the home.
In fact, researchers discovered a shocking 88 percent of teens who abuse prescription stimulants are using someone else’s medication.
Flooding the Market
In recent years, the number of new prescriptions for stimulant medications and the number of patients diagnosed with ADHD steadily grown. This increases the availability of stimulant drugs, creating a new area of temptation for teens who might not otherwise abuse substances. Teens who wouldn’t normally consider using street drugs now have quick and easy access to prescription drugs. Research highlights the importance of parental awareness and intervention, so taking steps to cut off access is key.
To protect your teen from prescription misuse, take the following actions:
A common misconception is that prescription drugs aren’t dangerous because they came from a doctor. If teens take something from the medicine cabinet instead of buying unmarked pills from a dealer, they assume it is safe. This is far from true.
Stimulants can increase heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure and lead to serious heart problems. They also affect sleep patterns and appetite. Taken in large enough doses, they can be lethal.
If anyone in your household takes a prescribed stimulant drug, research the side effects and risks of abuse. Speak with your teen about these dangers and warn them to never share medications. You should also talk about what constitutes abuse.
Lock & Load
Knowing the dangers isn’t enough to stop teens from abusing drugs. It’s also important to keep them out of reach. This prevents family members from becoming “accidental dealers.” Keep all prescriptions locked away when not in use. Treat them as you would other valuables, but with even greater care. Yes, this will make their use less convenient, but that is the idea.
In addition to locking them up, closely monitor the number of pills. Would you currently know if anything were missing? Even if it's just a few pills? Regular inventory of prescriptions will help alert you to misuse. This level of vigilance also lets your teen know that drug abuse won’t slip under your radar.
Don’t keep unused or expired prescriptions in the home. These provide unnecessary risk and temptation to your teens or their friends. Properly dispose of medications when no longer in use. Your city or county may offer a drug take-back program, hazardous waste collection, or other service that assists with drug disposal. If these aren’t available, take the following steps to dispose of medications:
- Do not flush prescriptions down the toilet unless the label says it’s okay. (Check the FDA website to verify what drugs should be flushed.)
- Remove drugs from their containers.
- Mix with something undesirable, such as coffee grounds or cat litter.
- Place this mixture in a sealable and disposable container.
- Remove all personal information from prescription containers (peel off labels, cover with permanent marker, etc.).
- Put the sealed container and empty drug containers in the trash.
Pledge and Share
If you're looking to make a personal commitment to these steps, consider taking the Lock Your Meds pledge.
Additionally, as you take action to prevent teen stimulant abuse, share your knowledge and efforts with other parents. By increasing awareness among at-risk families, you can help to decrease the number of teens falling into the trap of prescription drug abuse.
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