Preventing Teen Drug Abuse: 3 Steps to Safeguard Your Home
It has been estimated that two-thirds of teens who abuse prescription medicine get them from friends, family, and acquaintances. Even worse, many teens report their first experience with drugs coming from the family medicine cabinet. As the prescription drug epidemic continues to become a major topic of discussion, another issue needs to be address: how to prevent teens from accessing these over-the-counter medications. Fortunately, there are ways of preventing your teen from accessing medications.
You can make a difference by taking the following three steps:
Step 1: Monitor Your Teen
Parents are in a very influential position to reduce teen access to prescription drugs. Prescription medicine is commonly found in the home. However, do you keep track of how many pills you have at all times? If the answer is no, you are not alone. Many parents do not keep track of this information. Write down the quantities of pills you have and be aware of how many you are taking each day. Monitoring your pills will help you know if any of your pills go missing.
- Take note of how many pills are in each of your prescription bottles or pill packets.
- Keep track of your refills. This goes for all members of your household. If you begin to notice that you doing more refills than needed, this is an indication of a potential problem.
- Keep track of teen’s medications: Monitor dosages and refills. Be especially mindful of medications that are known to be addictive and abused by teens
- Spread awareness: let all family members and relatives know of the risk of prescription drug abuse. Make sure that family members are monitoring their own medicines.
- Talk to parents: If your teen has friends they stay over at often, make sure those families know about the importance of monitoring their medications.
Step 2: Secure Your Prescriptions
Treat prescriptions the same way you would treat important valuables in your home like jewelry or cash. It may even be a good idea to take prescriptions out of the medicine cabinet and put them in a place only you know about. If that is a challenge, only take medications that are known to be addictive, like opioid medications.
- The best method of security is to place all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter and place them in a locked cabinet or safety box.
- Make sure to tell all relatives, especially grandparents, to also keep their medications in a safe place.
- Talk to parents of teenagers and ensure that they are securing their prescriptions medications as well.
Step 3: Dispose of Leftovers
Dispose! Dispose! Dispose! This is where most people make the mistakes. The most critical step in preventing prescription drug abuse is by safely disposing expired or unused medications in an effort to protect your teens and yourself. Most people lose track or forget about unused medications long after they stop using them. By disposing your medications properly, you decrease the opportunity for your teen or their friends to abuse your medication.
- Take inventory. Discard any expired prescription or over-the-counter medicine.
- Participate in safe drug disposal programs. There are drug –take-back days organized by the DEA and local law enforcement to help encourage the disposal of unused pills. There are also many ongoing programs that occur in various communities for this purpose.
- As a last resort, you can dispose your medicine at home. Do not place unused medications immediately in the trash. Teenagers can and have retrieved unused drugs this way. Instead, mix the medication with an undesirable substance such as kitty litter or coffee grounds and discard.
- Do not flush any medicine down the toilet, unless you have specific instructions to do so. This is harmful to the environment. Unless the directions on the packaging say otherwise, do not flush medicine down the drain or toilet.
- Lastly, protect your privacy, and prevent unauthorized refills, by removing any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles before you throw them away.
Prescription drug abuse is a major problem, and it is affecting teenagers as well as adults. Protect your children and implement strategies that can prevent them from a drug addiction. Prevention is always the ideal strategy when it comes to lowering the rates of people suffering from drug addiction. However, if you or a loved one is struggling, do not be afraid of seeking the treatment you need and deserve.If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please do not wait. Call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.