This week marks the launch of the Medicine Abuse Project, which aims to prevent half a million teens from abusing prescription drugs within five years.
Among the troubling facts of medicine abuse, from Drugfree.org:
- One in six teens say they have taken a prescription medicine — that was not prescribed to them — at least once.
- Prescription pain relievers have contributed to more overdose deaths than “street drugs” like cocaine and heroin combined.
- Every day, more than 2,000 kids abuse prescription drugs for the first time.
- One industry group estimates that our nation’s medicine cabinets contain more than 200 million pounds of leftover prescriptions.
Although only a small minority of teens reported obtaining prescription drugs over the Internet — as opposed to the two-thirds who said they got them from friends or family — we know that some Internet pharmacies make it exceedingly easy to buy prescription-only products such as painkillers and attention deficit disorder drugs. With access to a credit card or PayPal account, teens could easily order medication not intended for them without ever having to provide proof of a prescription. (The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies sheds some light on the links between Internet use and prescription drug abuse.)
While education is vital — children who learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs than those who do not, according to Drugfree.org — another way to protect your kids is to remove the temptation to sample others’ prescription drugs. The DEA’s National Take Back Day is Saturday, Sept. 29. To find a site where you can safely dispose of pharmaceuticals, visit the DEA website and click “find a collection site near you.”