Now we’re going to focus on a persistent abuse issue that is of great concern – the intentional misuse and by teens of prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Prescription / over-the-counter drugs – known as Rx/OTC – are a real danger to teens. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs can be as dangerous, addictive, and deadly as the ‘street’ drugs we’re all familiar with, like cocaine, crack, and heroin. There is a reason why pharmaceutical companies put all those warning labels on drug bottles, and when they’re ignored, the user puts themselves at great risk.
Rx/OTC abuse is a widespread problem – the federal government’s research shows that every day, 2,500 teens abuse a prescription drug for the first time.
Another way to look at the prevalence of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse is by comparing it to other drugs of abuse. You’ve seen this chart before, but if you look closely, prescription drugs now fall third, after marijuana and inhalants, as a category of substance abuse. More kids are abusing prescription and over the counter drugs than cocaine, meth, and heroin combined. And, most worrisome, RX/OTC represents a new stepping stone to the so-called “harder” drugs in drug use progression.
A common question parents ask is “how do kids get these drugs?”Very few teens say that they are buying prescription or over the counter drugs online. Most get them from friends or from the medicine cabinet in their home. These are the two most common ways.
So – what prescription / over-the-counter drugs are being abused? Rx pain relievers (Vicodin, OxyContin) Rx stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin) Rx tranquilizers/sedatives (Xanax, Valium) OTC cough/cold with ‘DXM’ (Robitussin, Coricidin)
We’ve talked about the prevalence of Rx/OTC drug abuse – What effect are they having on teens? Unintentional drug poisoning now second leading cause of accidental death in US, after car crashes Emergency room visits related to Rx/OTC abuse how almost equal to ER visits due to all “street drugs” Rx drugs are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12-13 year olds
As we saw earlier in the presentation social disapproval of the use of a drug is low, use goes up. We are concerned that medicine use is become “normalized” – in other words “no big deal” – among American teens. Partnership studies show that: 1 in 3 teens report having a close friend who abuses Rx pain relievers to get high 1 in 5 report abusing an Rx medicine
We also saw that when perception of risk is low, and availability is high, use goes up. That’s also happening with Rx/OTC – Teens misperceive that abusing medicine is not dangerous (safer than “street drugs”) Ease of access via medicine cabinets at home or friend’s house, own or other person’s prescriptions
What shapes teens’ perceptions of safety?They see it as being:Sanitized -- Created in a medical laboratory for healing purposesSanctioned -- Accepted by society as a “positive”; andSafe -- Because it is certified by FDA
So – What do parents think?(Click sequentially) Street drugs are generally considered more dangerous Parents are less familiar with “pills” – they often have no frame of reference since these types of drugs of abuse didn’t exist in their youth There’s a lack of urgency around Rx-OTC
You’ve heard the stat -- research shows that teens who learn about the risks of drug from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs.But – parents are not talking to their kids about Rx/OTC – while only 20% of teens say that their parents have NEVER talked with them about alcohol or illicit drugs ……over half say that their parents have NEVER talked with them specifically about prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse.
So – what can we as parents do?First – learn about medications kids are abusing. Attending this presentation is a great start, but there’s more to learn at drugfree.org.Talk to your kids about these risks – When kids learn about these risks from you – their parent or caring adult – it does make a difference.Safeguard medications. If there is a substance that can be abused in your home, you need to keep it in a place where kids can’t access it easily. Even if you think that your kids would never abuse them, you need to think about all the kids who come into your home. You also want to talk with your friends, and your kids’ friends’ parents and ask them to do the same. Also – keep track of your medications – If you find that you are having to refill your prescriptions more frequently than expected, that is something to be concerned about.Finally, dispose of medications properly. Some – but not all -- pharmacies have “take-back” programs. If yours doesn’t, follow these steps: Unbelievable though it may seem, teenagers will retrieve discarded prescriptiondrugs from the trash. To help prevent this from happening, crush your medication, mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and put the mixture into an empty can or bag and discard.
Prescription / Over-the-Counter Drugs
Real Danger “Abusing prescription (RX) and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can be just as dangerous, addictive and even deadly as using „street‟ drugs”National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2008
Rx/OTC Abuse Every day, 2,500 teens abuse a prescription drug for the first time.Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Studyon Drug Use and Health, 2007
Rx abuse represents new “tier”of teen lifetime use 44% 23% 17% 13% 12% 11% 9% 7% 5%0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, 2009
How Rx drugs are obtained% 24 25 20 15 15 10 5 1 0 Got it from a Medicine cabinet Internet friend in my homePartnership for a Drug-Free America, Prescription / Over-the-Counter Drug Study, 2008
Troubling Indicators of Medicine Abuse• Unintentional drug poisoning now second leading cause of accidental death in US, after car crashes• Emergency room visits related to Rx/OTC abuse now almost equal to ER visits due to all “street drugs”• Rx drugs are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12-13 year olds Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Three Leading Causes of Injury Mortality in the United States, 1999-2005, 2008; Drug Abuse Warning Network; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Study on Drug Use and Health, 2007
Medicine Abuse “Normalized” in Teen Culture• 1 in 3 teens report having a close friend who abuses Rx pain relievers to get high• 1 in 5 report abusing an Rx medicinePartnership for a Drug-Free America, Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, 2008
Key Factors Driving Teen Medicine Abuse• Misperceptions that abusing medicine is not dangerous (safer than “street drugs”)• Ease of access via medicine cabinets at home or friend‟s house, own or other person‟s prescriptions
Teen perceptions of safetySanitized Sanctioned SafeCreated in a Accepted by Certified medical society as by FDA laboratory a “positive” for healing purposes
What about parents’ perceptions?• Street drugs are generally considered more dangerous• Parents are less familiar with “pills” – they often have no frame of reference since these types of drugs of abuse didn‟t exist in their youth• There‟s a lack of urgency around Rx-OTC
Parent/Kid Conversation• Only 1 in 5 (20%) teens report that their parents have never talked to them about alcohol or illegal drugs• Half of teens (51%) say their parents have never talked to them about prescription drug abusePartnership for a Drug-Free America, Partnership Attitude Tracking Study,2008
Take Action!• Learn about medications kids are abusing• Talk with your kids / kids in your life about the risks• Safeguard medications at home (and ask friends to do the same)• Dispose of medications properly