Nearly one out of five high school students has taken prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription, according to the 2014 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance study. Too many teenagers today think that taking Vicodin, Ritalin or Xanax for nonmedical use is harmless. In reality, some prescription drugs have a high potential for abuse and teens can easily become hooked on them.
As a parent, you may be wondering how you can keep your teen from following this dangerous trend. Here are seven ways that you can prevent teen prescription drug abuse.
Keep an Eye on Your Medicine Cabinet
According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 65 percent of teenagers take/steal prescription medications from their family or friends. That being said, it is important for you to vigilantly monitor your medicine cabinet. Not only should you keep track of your medications, you should also take note of your teen’s prescriptions, as well as other family members. If you notice some pills are missing from the bottle or that you need to refill medications more often, this could be a red flag that your teenager is taking your prescriptions.
Set Guidelines on Your Teen’s Prescriptions
Just as you have rules for driving the family car, you should set expectations of what is acceptable and unacceptable in regards to your teen’s medications. If your son or daughter is prescribed a potentially addictive medication, such as oxycodone or Adderall, make sure they know that they can’t share the medications with their friends or classmates. Also, sit down with your teenager and their medical provider and discuss the importance of taking the proper dosage and following the instructions carefully.
Have an Open Discussion
Did you know that teenagers are less likely to abuse drugs if their parents talk to them about the risks? Have a frank discussion with them about the dangers of abusing and misusing prescription medications. This discussion is the perfect opportunity to answer any questions they may have about prescription drugs and their effects. Many teenagers have misconceptions about prescription drugs and don’t realize that it is possible to overdose on them. In 2011, over 75,000 adolescents landed in the emergency room after taking prescription medications for nonmedical use.
Ditch Any Old/Unused Medications
Take a good look through your medicine cabinet. Do you have some painkillers leftover from a previous injury? Or do you have expired sedatives from when you suffered from anxiety? Either way, it is important to get rid of all unused and expired medications. Leaving them in your medicine cabinet increases the risk that your teenager or maybe one of their friends will take the medication.
What should do you with old or unwanted prescriptions? Many counties have medication take-back programs. Contact your local law enforcement agency and see if there is a program in your community. If not, your local pharmacy may be able to dispose of your old medications. Whatever you do, don’t flush the medications down the toilet unless a pharmacist says so. Doing this could potentially contaminate the water.
Watch Their Internet Use
While the infamous Silk Road has been shut down, your teenager can still buy prescriptions from various websites; there is a grave danger in this. Teenagers have no idea what they are really buying online, it’s not uncommon for companies to sell counterfeit prescriptions or dangerous drugs and mark them as another medication.
Additionally, teenagers can find drug dealers on the popular social media platform Instagram. All teens have to do is search for their drug of choice on the site under certain hashtags. Although your teenager can’t purchase prescription drugs directly from Instagram, drug dealers typically have an email or cell phone number on their account in order for people to contact them.
Set a Good Example
Whether you realize it or not, your teenager is watching your behavior closely. Make sure that you are also following the guidelines for prescriptions medications yourself. If your teenager sees you taking medications without a prescription or using them to get high, they will think that it’s okay to emulate your actions.
Lock Up Your Medications
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to lock up your prescription painkillers or other medications. Parents lock liquor cabinets to keep kids from drinking, why shouldn’t you do the same with your prescription drugs? By doing this, you are making sure that your family’s prescriptions are not getting into the wrong hands.
Decrease the Odds
As you may know, there is no sure-proof method when it comes to preventing teen drug abuse. However, if you follow these tips you can make sure that your teenager is well-informed about prescription drugs and decrease the chances of them abusing prescription medications.
If your teen is abusing prescription drugs, don’t wait till it’s too late to seek help. Call us today at (844)319-5239 or chat now. Our admissions counselors will answer any questions you may have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.