At one time, kids raided their parents' liquor cabinet when they wanted to get high. Today, it's their medicine cabinet. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University estimates that 2.3 million children ages 12 to 17 take legal prescription drugs illegally every year. For these parties, teens take whatever drugs they can get, combine them in a bag or bowl (pharming them out), taking handfuls at one time, and they have no idea what very dangerous interactions these drugs have. These parties are usually held while the parents are out of the house.
- 1 in 5 teens abuse Vicodin
- 1 in 10 teens abuse OxyContin
- 1 in 10 teens abuse Ritalin and/or Adderall
- 1 in 11 teens abuse OTC cough medicines
REASONS FOR ABUSE:
- 62% - Easy to get
- 52% - Available
- 51% - Not illegal
- 49% - Can claim their prescription if caught
- Twice as likely to use alcohol
- 5 times more likely to use marijuana
- 12 times more likely to use heroin
- 15 times more likely to use Ecstasy
- 21 times more likely to use cocaine
- Pain relievers are known as: "Big boys", "cotton" & "kickers"
- Sedatives are known as: "Chill pills", "tranq" & "french fries"
- "Trail Mix": Name given for the mixture of various prescriptions served together at pharming parties.
- The "recipe": The combination of drugs served with alcohol.
SIGNS OF ABUSE:
- Grades drop
- Looses interest in activities and hobbies
- Changes friends, appearance, or behavior (a BIG Red Flag)
- Eating and sleeping patterns change
- Medicines disappear from the house or medicine cabinet, with no explanation
- Signs of drug abuse, such as slurred speech, dilated pupils, sweating, nausea, vomiting
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
- Educate yourself about what kids are abusing, including prescription drugs.
- Don't be afraid to talk to kids about trends at school.
- Monitor Internet use - another major source of prescription drugs - monitor mail for unexplained packages.
- Educate yourself and other parents. Too many parents are not aware of the possibility of this kind of abuse.
- Clean out the medicine cabinet. Discard left-over and expired medications, either by burning them or placing them in coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are acidic & will desolve the pills. There are only certain pills that can safely be flushed without "drugging" the water supply.
- Talk to your teen about the dangers and your expectations. Teens need to hear that abusing prescription or OTC drugs is not safe and can result in death.
If you wonder if talking to your teen will have an impact, be assured that parents are a major force in the lives of their teens and children. 2/3 of teens say that losing their parents respect and pride was one of the main reasons they didn't use drugs.
If you are a parent of a teen, you probably already monitor your liquor cabinet (if you drink of course), but it's your medicine cabinet you need to worry about, especially if you are prescribed drugs for pain relief, anxiety or hyperactivity. Keep those medications locked and out of reach of your teens.