Recent reports from the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and the Journal of the American Medical Association indicate that 1 in 5 high school students admitted abusing prescription drugs.
There are potentially dangerous drugs in the medicine cabinet that may be tempting to teenagers. ADHD medications like Ritalin or Adderall are commonly abused in high school and on college campuses; medicines that include laxatives and diuretics are sought by teens looking to lose weight.
What should parents do to minimize risk?
Avoid bringing narcotics into your house unless they’re essential to treat a serious cause of pain. If you do need narcotics, fill a prescription for a small supply, and keep track of it. Narcotics should rarely (if ever) be used to treat cough.
Try things like massage, heat, and physical therapy for especially chronic pain. If medication is needed, try to rely on non-narcotic pain relievers — these can be very effective, especially when taken before pain becomes severe.
Destroy unused prescriptions. The safest way to do this is through incineration (you can ask your doctor to toss them into their “biohazard” bags), or by sealing them in a bottle along with something inedible like motor oil and disposing it properly. It’s not a good idea to throw prescription pills in the toilet or sink.
Prescriptions (especially narcotics, tranquilizers, and ADHD medications) need to be hidden or locked up. Teens and young adults will often “scope out” medicine cabinets when visiting other homes — they’re usually private, in the bathroom. Teens know what pills to nab for personal abuse or to sell.
Most important of all: set a good example. Use prescribed medications the way they’re supposed to be used, and don’t monkey around with saving pills or using any medication off-handedly. Talk with your children frankly about what medications are for and how they can all have serious side effects. Protecting teens isn’t just about locking up the pills. It’s also about helping them develop their own sense of respect for these medications, so they continue to make good decisions throughout their lives.
This answer should not be considered medical advice...This answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.
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