You may worry about your teen trying illegal drugs at a party, but don't overlook an equally scary danger: prescription drugs, found right in your own home. Addiction expert Dr. Drew Pinsky says that in 2010, one in four teens had abused a prescription medication. That's 25 percent of all teens -- and that's a big statistic.
In 2009, the figure was one in five teens, which means that the problem is only growing. What can you do? SheKnows talked with Dr. Drew to learn more about teen prescription drug abuse and how we can protect our kids.
"Prescription drug abuse is any use that is strictly intended to become intoxicated or get high," explained Dr. Drew. "One time qualifies. One time can kill you." Furthermore, any prescription drug use that is not supervised by a professional is abuse. Unfortunately, as Dr. Drew noted, "The problem is that sometimes kids abuse the medicines that are being supervised by a professional."
"Most often, teens are getting the prescription drugs from their friends' or family's own medicine cabinets," Dr. Drew told SheKnows. So while you're talking to your teen about resisting peer pressure when it comes to illegal street drugs, don't overlook the danger that could be conveniently located in your bathroom.
Talk to your kids! "The sooner the better," Dr. Drew told us. "There's no lower age limit for when you should talk about substance, in my opinion. There are tons of opportunities in pop culture to discuss these things."
Dr. Drew told SheKnows that the difficulty is in conveying to your children and teens that prescription drugs are no joke. "Every kid has a friend who has been on psychostimulants since he was five," Dr. Drew said. "Convincing kids that there is a danger is a difficult task."
Still, it's your job to talk to your tween or teen and to keep the prescription drugs in your home unavailable. "Send the message that prescription drugs must be handled with caution. In our society, pills are the solution for everything. But we've lost track of the fact that pills are always dangerous," he said. Monitor your medicine cabinets and lock up your prescriptions if necessary.
To bring nationwide awareness to the problem of teens and prescription drug abuse, Dr. Drew teamed up with the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., to bring the Schools Get Smart, Schools Take Action Tool Kit to schools. It's part of the Smart Moves, Smart Choices initiative.
"Young people are putting themselves in danger -- even dying -- because they do not understand how dangerous these otherwise safe prescription medications can be when misused and abused," Dr. Drew explained.
"School professionals who spend every day with teens are in a perfect position to drive this point home. I want to encourage schools to order the free School Tool Kit and begin a dialogue about teen prescription drug abuse today," he said.
The Tool Kit enables middle schools and high schools to raise awareness of teen prescription drug abuse. It contains school assembly tools, lesson plans, videos featuring Dr. Drew Pinsky, posters, stickers, parent fliers and more. Your child's school can order a hard copy of the tool kit or download the digital kit.
"The scariest thing I ever hear a parent say is 'not my kid -- he's a good kid -- he would never abuse a prescription drug,'" Dr. Drew said in a statement about the campaign. "The reality is that every teen is at risk. Prescription drug abuse happens every day. By launching this School Tool Kit, the National Association of School Nurses and Janssen are providing valuable tools to educate students and parents about teen prescription drug abuse."
Dr. Drew shares the details of the Smart Moves, Smart Choices campaign
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