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Medicine Safety

Teens:

Have you ever heard someone say something like this?

"But they’re prescription drugs. How bad can they be?"
"My brother has attention deficit disorder and takes prescription medicine to keep it controlled. I need help concentrating during a big test.
Taking his medicine should be OK, right?"
"My Mom broke her ankle 6 months ago and the doctor gave her painkillers. She didn’t need them all, so the rest of the bottle is just sitting in the medicine cabinet. Taking 1 of them, just to see how it feels, wouldn’t do any harm, right?"
this is important

Just because a drug or medicine was prescribed by a doctor doesn’t mean it’s OK for anyone to take at any time — even if it was your prescription.  This is drug abuse.

Why do people abuse prescription drugs?

drug abuse

There are many reasons why people abuse prescription drugs. Some of them could be:

  • To feel good or get high.
  • To go along with their friends.
  • To help them concentrate.
  • To see what it feels like.
this is important

Taking a medicine in a way or for a reason it isn’t meant to be taken is drug abuse.

Your body could have a bad reaction to a medicine you’ve never taken or in amounts you’ve never taken. Some of these could be:

  • Mood swings or feeling angry.
  • Depression.
  • Trouble sleeping or staying awake.
  • Anxiety.
  • Addiction to other drugs.*
  • Relationship problems with friends or family.

More serious reactions could be:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Coma (when you can’t wake up).
  • Overdose.
  • Death.
no
3 out of 4 heroin users say they used painkillers before moving on to heroin.

Do you or a friend need help?

If you think that you, or a friend of yours, need help for prescription drug abuse, don’t wait until it’s too late. Get help now.

  • Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: SAMHSA’S National Hotline 1‑800‑662‑HELP (4357)  For TDD 1‑800‑487‑4889.
  • Or, go online for more information at www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
  • For emergencies, call 911.
  • For behavioral health, drug, and alcohol treatment in your county:
    • Bucks County: 1-877-769-9784
    • Chester County: 1-866-622-4228
    • Delaware County: 1-888-207-2911
    • Montgomery County: 1-877-769-9782
    • Philadelphia County: 1-888-545-2600

Parents/Guardian:

What’s in your medicine cabinet?

medicine cabinets

If you’re like most people, aside from vitamins and toothpaste, you might not know. How often have you stopped taking a prescription medicine before it was finished? And then you either forget it’s there or you’re not sure what to do with it, so there it sits in your cabinet.

As a parent of a child or teen, all those “left over” medicines need to be disposed of in the right way. They are a threat you may not have even considered.

Taking a medicine in a way or for a reason it isn’t meant to be taken is drug abuse.

How bad is it?

The Partnership at Drugfree.org survey in 2012 found the following:

24% of high school students

More than 5 million teens have abused prescription drugs.

20% of the 5 million

Admitted abusing prescription drugs for the first time before the age of 14.

27% of the students surveyed

Thought prescription drugs were safer than “street drugs.”

75% of young people who have abused prescription pain medicines

say they got them from a friend or family member.

What to look for:

  • Are any medicines missing from your medicine cabinet? Keep track of what is there. Get rid of medicines you don’t need anymore. Be aware if something is missing.
  • Have you noticed any changes in your child? Some signs of prescription drug abuse can be:
    • Mood swings or feeling angry.
    • Trouble remembering things.
    • Always tired or never tired.
    • Not eating like normal.
    • Anxious.
    • Depression.
  • Does your child have any risk factors of drug abuse?
    • A history of addiction to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
    • A family history of addiction.
    • A history of mental health issues.
    • Experiencing peer pressure or issues with friends.

What you can do:

There are steps you can take to help prevent prescription drug abuse, or to help your child if abuse is already happening.

  • Get rid of medicine in your cabinet that you do not need. Depending on the kind of medicine, you may be able to dispose of the medicine yourself. But sometimes you need to take it somewhere for special disposal. To find out more, call your local pharmacy. You can also go to www.disposemymeds.org or visit pill-drop locations https://apps.ddap.pa.gov/GetHelpNow/PillDrop.aspx.
  • Keep the medicines you do need in a safe and secure place. Make sure they are in a spot where others cannot get them.
  • Talk with your child. Whether you think there is a problem or not, communication is the best defense. Talk to your child about the dangers of taking medicines that are not prescribed for him or her, and about taking medicines he or she needs in the wrong way. Let your child know that abusing prescription drugs often leads to using other kinds of drugs, to addiction, and, sometimes, to death. Most importantly, make sure your child knows you are there to help.
  • Let your child know what you expect. Set limits. Setting clear limits and giving your child the responsibility to follow them teaches self-control. It also shows how much you care.
  • Know what’s happening. Where is your child going? Who is your child with? What are your child’s friends like? What does your child like to do in his or her free time? The more involved you are, the more aware you will be if something isn’t right.

Sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Commonwealth Prevention Alliance for the PA Stop Opiate Abuse Campaign.

Resources:

Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Hotline 1‑800‑662‑HELP (4357)  For TDD 1‑800‑487‑4889.
  • Poison Control Hotline 1‑800‑222‑1222
  • For emergencies, call 911.
  • Or, go online for more information: www.teens.drugabuse.gov, www.disposemymeds.org, https://apps.ddap.pa.gov/GetHelpNow/PillDrop.aspx
  • For behavioral health, drug, and alcohol treatment in your county:
    • Bucks County: 1-877-769-9784
    • Chester County: 1-866-622-4228
    • Delaware County: 1-888-207-2911
    • Montgomery County: 1-877-769-9782
    • Philadelphia County: 1-888-545-2600