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Prevent RX Abuse Among Youth

by Lux Joseph 17. October 2014

Last week we informed you about October being breast cancer awareness month, but did you know that October is also National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. Prescription medicine—a critical piece of our cultural fabric—“a pill for every ill”—all you have to do is turn on the TV, listen to the radio or view ads on the Internet or in the newspaper to see and hear about the latest medicine that can cure migraines, treat pain and stress, keep you more alert, help you sleep or address depression. We walk that fine line between ensuring access to needed medications to preventing misuse/abuse and addiction.

Commercial Medical Escorts encourages you to educate children and young people about the realities and dangers of prescription drug abuse. By educating the youth we can increase our chances of preventing them from starting to abuse psychotherapeutics in the first place. The statistics can be shocking including: 

  • The rate of current illicit drug use among people aged 12 or older was higher for males (11.6 percent) than for females (6.9 percent). Males were more likely than females to be current users of several different illicit drugs, including nonmedical users of psychotherapeutic drugs (2.8 versus. 2.4 percent).
  • Among 16 or 17 year olds, 4.0 percent used psychotherapeutic drugs nonmedically (with 3.1 percent using pain relievers nonmedically); prescription medications came in second to marijuana.
  • The rate of current nonmedical use of psychotherapeutic drugs among young adults aged 18 to 25 was 5.3 percent. The rate of current nonmedical use of pain relievers among young adults in 2012 was 3.8 percent.
  • The rate of current illicit drug use among adults aged 26 or older was 7.0 percent, including rates of 5.3 percent for current use of marijuana and 2.1 percent for current nonmedical use of psychotherapeutic drugs.

Source: 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

The good news is that nationally, among youths aged 12 to 17, the rate of current nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs declined from 4.0 percent in 2002 to its current levels. While we can say, “great job,” we need to remember that

  • Many teens and young adults still believe that Rx medicines are safer to abuse than illegal drugs.
  • These medicines are easy to get—about 54 percent of those abusing these medicines obtain them from friends and relatives.
  • Approximately 2000 teens misuse or abuse Rx drugs for the first time each day (NIDA FOR TEENS).

As such, some teens and young adults will fall down that slippery slope of abuse and addiction. And before you can say, “Not my child,” you may find yourself saying, “it is my child—now what?”

Be a part of the solution. CME encourages parents to lock up your medications and properly dispose them when they’re no longer needed. Then, get involved. Talk with your teen or young adult.

In this age of a “pill for every ill,” we live in a society where the potential for prescription drug abuse and addiction is ever-present. Among teens and young adults, next to marijuana, Rx drugs are abused the most. According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.8 million people or 2.6 percent of the population were unmedical users of Rx medicines in 2012.  Out of this number, 2.8 percent represent young people, aged 12-17. Data also tells us that they’re abusing pain relievers, depressants and stimulants to go to sleep, wake up, stay alert and/or get high.

We see the more visible signs of Rx abuse every day:

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman—died of a heroin overdose, triggered by an addiction to prescription pain medicines.
  • Whitney Houston—died of an overdose of cocaine and prescription drugs.
  • Heather Ledger—died of an overdose of sleeping pills—both prescription and over-the-counter.
  • Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith, Brian “Crush” Adams (professional wrestler) and Ken Caminiti (1996 Most Valuable Player-played for Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves)—died of prescription drug overdose.

Some key side effects of abuse include the following:

·      Nausea and vomiting

·      Abdominal pain

·      Confusion

·      Dizziness

·      Double or blurred vision

·      Slurred speech

·      Rapid heart beat

·      Drowsiness

·      Disorientation

·      Impaired physical coordination

At Commercial Medical Escorts we encourage you to educate yourself about the abuse and ways you can prevent it from happening to a love one. As a parent you will want to know potential warning signs of abuse:

       Empty cough medicine boxes or bottles in the trash a teen’s room, backpack or school locker

       Teens purchasing or using cough medicine when not ill

       Missing boxes or bottles from home medicine supply

       Hearing a teen use certain slang terms for DXM abuse, such as skittles, skittling, tussin, robo-tripping, robo, CCC, triple Cs,  and Dexing/DXM


 If you suspect or recognize any of these instances occurring then it is likely that you child could be abusing and at that point you should be proactive. Talking to your teen, talking to other parents, and monitoring your child’s behaviors are critical to determining the best way to approach the situation. Being proactive, being alert, and addressing the situation in the early stages will be more effective than ignoring or hoping it will go away on its own. Take action!

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