The profile of a drug addict is changing. While in recent decades, the picture of a drug addict conjured up images of dark alleys and vacant buildings inhabited by down-on-their-luck wanderers, the current reality is looking substantially different. Often, the root of a drug addiction is no longer the shady character offering drugs, but insteadthe medicine cabinet at a grandparent or friend’s house.
Prescription Drugs – Highly And Easily Addictive
Increasingly, addictive pain medications or prescriptions issued for anxiety or other mental health conditions are being abused. Highly addictive, these medications are initially prescribed for a legitimate pain or mental health problem, only to be used in ways other than intended by the physician.
In some cases, a chronic pain patient does not understand the addictive nature of the drug, and what begins as a treatment for pain spirals out of control as the patient requires more and more of the medication to achieve the same level of relief.
Easy Access To Prescriptions – A Problem Just Waiting To Happen
In other situations, pain or anxiety medications are left unused in the medicine cabinet, waiting only to be discovered by a visiting friend with a drug habit. The friend takes a few pills from the bottle and the patient is unaware that any have been taken.
A new study documents the accessibility that teens have to these types of drugs. The surprising findings show that drugs are not being monitored in households and abuse may be rampant. The study finds that 83.4 percent are able to access prescription drugs at home without supervision. In addition, 73.7 percent of those teens possessed a prescription for anti-anxiety, pain relief, sedative and stimulant medications that can be abused.
Lead author Paula Ross-Derow, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, was surprised by the high number of teens who had easy access to prescription medications. The researchers had expected that medications would largely be securely store, away from teens and requiring parental assistance when a dosage was scheduled.
The researchers examined how medication was supervised in the households in 230 teens in the 8th and 9th grades. The information was gathered via both online surveys and through a face-to-face interview.
With an increasing rate of emergency department visits involving the non-medical usage of prescription painkillers among those under the age of 21, in addition to a steep increase in deaths related to prescription overdose, it is important to understand how teens obtain the drugs.
The researchers note that parents may be unaware that the problem is so widespread. They may not imagine that their child or their child’s friends would ever take medication from their medicine cabinet. The parents, therefore, fail to take precautions to make sure that the medications are not available to teens and their friends.
The misuse of the drugs can result not only in overdose or misuse, but the drugs are also being dispersed to friends. Teens may be well-meaning, believing that they are helping out a friend who is anxious or in pain, but there are many dangers associated with taking medications without a prescription.
Parents may not realize that there are teens that enter their homes then take medications out of the bathroom closet, or even from a bottle sitting out in the living areas.
Importance Of Locking Up Household Prescription Medicines
Further research will examine whether there is an association between medications that are readily available in the home and misuse or abuse by teens living or associated with that home. In addition, it is unclear whether parents and teens are receiving adequate education about the importance of locking up medication when they are issued the prescription.
Parents should take care that all prescriptions are unavailable to their teens and the teen’s friends. Medications should be stored in a locked container, stored away from heat and moisture, such as on a high bedroom closet shelf. Medications should not be stored in the kitchen or the bathroom, where temperatures and humidity levels fluctuate widely.
Read More About How To Know When Prescription And OTC Use Becomes Abuse In Teens