Prescription Drug Abuse Up Sharply In Youth

Posted in:
Tweens / Teens
Medication Safety
Substance Misuse

Recently sheriff’s deputies were called to a school because a 12 year old child was passing out methadone pills to another student.

The child confirmed swapping parent’s prescription pills was common in school. Parents and teachers need to realize any narcotic drug in the hands of youngsters is potentially life threatening.

If parents find medication and believe their child may be suffering from ill effects, they can call the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222 for assistance or they can talk to their child’s pediatrician about potential abuse.

Poison Centers are starting to see an upswing in prescription drug abuse among kids age 12 to 17. The most abused seem to be Vicodin along with depressants like benzodiazepines (Valium/Xanax).

Abuse of Vicodin, which contains an opiate and acetaminophen, can cause liver failure as well as other serious problems. Signs of prescription drugs abuse varies with the type of medication. Parents should be aware of any change in their child’s behavior such as slurred speech, constricted or expanded pupils, flushed skin, excessive sweating, personality changes, mood swings, excessive energy or lethargy. Parents should call the poison center or consult their physician if concerned.

Prescription drug overdoses can cause death or serious injury to youngsters. The death rates for unintentional poisoning in Americans aged 15 to 24 more than doubled between 1999 and 2004 nationwide, with all of the increase coming from prescription drug overdoses.  Across the country, most young people 12 years of age and older who abuse prescription drugs get their drugs for free from family members. It’s usually easier for younger kids to acquire prescription drugs from other family members than to purchase illicit drugs from dealers. In a recent survey on drug use by kids aged 12 to 17, one in five had abused some type of prescription medication during the past year.

Parents and grandparents can help reduce the chance they are supplying drugs to area children by closely monitoring the family’s prescription drug use. This can be as simple as monitoring the number of pills in bottles and tracking refill frequency. If a teen is prescribed a drug, parents should control that medication, including monitoring the dosages and refills.  Store all medications in a secure, preferably locked location not available to the youngster.

Properly dispose all outdated and unneeded medicines. Medications should not be disposed of either by flushing down the toilet or by putting them in the trash as this can cause harm to the environment. Call the poison center if you’re not sure of the proper way to get rid of these medicines.  To prevent unauthorized refills, remove any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles or pill packages before you throw them away.  Encourage other adults in households frequented by your children to also monitor, secure and dispose their prescription drugs.