There's a growing list of prescription drugs that kids loot from medicine cabinets for a high. In many cases, the medicine cabinet at home has replaced the local drug pusher as the source of teenagers' drugs of choice.
How Prevalent is the Problem?
In a survey conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, nearly 20% of adolescents ages 12 to 18 admitted to having used prescription drugs at least once to get high. This same survey revealed that 10% of this group used cough syrup to get high at least once. Prescription and over-the-counter medication abuse now rivals that of illegal drug use among teens.
Teenage girls are more likely to experiment with prescription drugs. Teenage boys continue to use illegal drugs more often than they do prescription drugs, according to the study. Among both male and female teens, there is a dangerous misconception that using prescribed medication to get high is safer than using illegal drugs. After all, it's really just "borrowing" medicine, right?
In the article "Delinquents in Suburbia" in the June 2001 issue of The American Enterprise, Jim Holstine of Florida Addiction Services in Cape Coral said that the abuse of prescription drugs among teens in that community had soared since 1996, with Holstine estimating that half of the suburb's teens had experimented with prescription drug use.
List of Prescription Drugs Prime for Abuse
Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants:
These lists are not exhaustive, but represent a majority of the list of prescription drugs that teenagers and others abuse.
How to Stem The Tide
All adults who have teenagers in their home, either to live or to visit, must be mindful of keeping prescription medications out of their hands. Storing prescription medications in common areas of the home such as the kitchen or bathroom is an open invitation to anyone who comes across them.
When children are young, precautions are taken to keep known poisons and dangerous substances away from curious hands and mouths. Devices are purchased and installed to keep little ones out of electrical sockets and cabinets. Baby monitors are placed in infant rooms to ensure baby's safety. When those same young children become adolescents, parental vigilance should be just as prevalent and strong, although in other ways.
Keep prescription medications in a safe place, remembering that your purse or glove compartment is not a safe place. Don't offer to give, or to take from someone else, prescription medication. Doing so adds to the teen's misguided belief that prescription medication use is safe; it is only safe under the advice and guidance of a physician, and only for the person for whom the prescription was written.
Monitor your prescription medication bottles. Destroy old or unused prescription medications. Talk with other family members with whom the teen visits, such as grandparents. Ask them to provide the same vigilance with their medications as you do with yours.
Talk to the parents of your teen's friends about the topic of prescription drug misuse.
Talk to your teens about the misuse of prescription drugs. An open conversation about the topic is as vital as the topics of illegal drug use, alcohol use and sex.
If you decide to drug test at home, there is a variety of drug test kits on the market. It can be hard to choose kit which will be reliable and accurate.
Even as the number of kids using alcohol and illegal drugs dropped, the number of teens getting high with cough syrup abuse has been increasing.