The misuse and abuse of prescription drugs has been on the rise in the past decade. What begins as a legitimate pain problem can become an addiction when medication use is not carefully monitored. And when the pain clears up, the pills may be abandoned in the medicine cabinet for teens to pilfer.
The Importance Of Being A Pro-Active Parent
Drugs intended to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as Ritalin and Adderall, are also being abused as “study aids” as sleep can be avoided for days and an intense level of focus can be achieved in order to meet academic goals. Because these drugs are being over prescribed, students generally have at least one friend with available medication.
A 2013 report by The Partnership at Drugfree.org showed teen prescription drug use trends. The findings are helpful for creating strategies to reduce teen drug use, but also for parents that hope to help their kids avoid drugs.
The report revealed that while parents are largely following recommendations to have conversations with their kids about drug and alcohol use, they may be missing an opportunity when it comes to talking about prescription drugs. In fact, parents may not even realize that prescription drugs are a danger.
Why Parental Communication Is So Important
Only 14 percent of teens in the study indicated that their parents had talked with them about abusing prescription drugs, while more than three quarters reported conversations about marijuana and alcohol consumption. Nearly one-third of parents had talked with them about crack and cocaine use.
The numbers may reflect a misunderstanding about the serious consequences associated with prescription drugs. One in six parents admitted they believed prescription drugs to be a safer way to get high when compared with street drugs. In addition, about one-third of parents believed that drugs prescribed for ADHD could improve academic performance, even if the teenager does not have the disorder.
How To Take Action Against Teen Prescription Drug Use
The study’s findings showed that one in four teens has misused a prescription drug at least one time, reflecting a 33 percent increase in five years. One in eight respondents said that they had misused or abused a medication prescribed to treat ADHD.
Monitoring the medicine cabinet or locking meds and hiding them away are a must. Pill levels should be monitored closely and unfinished prescriptions should never be left in the house. Parents should also talk with grandparents and other family members about not leaving medications unattended.
Parents can also discuss stress levels and expectations related to school and extracurricular activities, encouraging kids to treat stress with exercise, sleep and healthy eating, rather than turning to medication.