How to Prevent Your Teen From Abusing Prescription Drugs

Take a Proactive Approach to Prevent Prescription Misuse or Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem among teens.
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Although many parents talk to teens about the dangers of street drugs, like marijuana, many don’t consider the dangers of prescription drugs. Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is a major problem among today’s teens.

Yet, many parents don't ever take the time to tell their kids, "Don't take anyone else's prescriptions." Without knowledge, teens underestimate how dangerous taking someone else's pills can be.

Unfortunately, experimenting with prescription drugs can lead to a serious addiction. 

Educate Yourself

Many parents don't understand how serious of an issue prescription drug abuse really is. Educate yourself about the dangers of prescription drugs. Websites like the The National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse and the Medicine Abuse Project offer information about prescription drug misuse and abuse. Stay up-to-date on the types of drugs teens are abusing because new drugs enter the marketplace often.

Discuss Prescription Drug Dangers

Studies show teens don't understand the risks associated with prescription drug abuse. Many teens don’t realize that taking an extra pill or using a friend’s prescription can be life threatening.

Talk to your teen about the dangers of developing an addiction or the potential medical consequences associated with taking drugs differently than prescribed.

It’s important for your teen to understand that it’s not safe to use other people’s prescriptions.

Discuss the Potential Legal Consequences

Talk to your teen about the potential legal consequences of prescription drug misuse. Make it clear that taking a friend’s prescription can lead to serious legal charges.

If your teen takes prescriptions, discuss the dangers of sharing with friends. Give your teen skills to resist peer pressure in the event a friend asks to take one of his pills.

Role Model Appropriate Behavior

Don’t share prescription pills. If you’ve got leftover pain pills from a previous injury, don’t give them to someone who has a headache. Role model to your child that prescriptions aren’t meant to be shared.

Make it clear that you should only take medication as prescribed by a physician. Don’t double up on doses or skip pills. Instead, show your teen that it’s important to follow a doctor’s advice.

Discard Unused Medications

There’s no reason to keep unused prescriptions in the medicine cabinet. Expired prescriptions or unused pills should be safely discarded.

Most prescriptions include instructions about how unused medication should be discarded. If you can’t find any specific instructions, talk with your pharmacist. Find out the best way to discard the medication.

Many communities offer “take back” programs where old prescriptions are collected to keep them from being flushed or put into landfills.

These programs are often put into place because some people are weary of the environmental impact of flushing medications or putting pills in the landfill.

Keep Prescriptions Locked

Keeping prescriptions safely locked in a cabinet makes prescription drug misuse impossible. Even if you think that your child would never take your prescription, remember that other teens may be looking for prescriptions when they enter your home. Sadly, some of them will search through medicine cabinets or bathroom sinks to look for pills.

If your pills are locked safely away, you won’t have to worry about pills being misused. There won’t be a reason to question anyone if you think some pills are missing and you won’t need to worry about being responsible for drugs being stolen out of your home.

Look For Warning Signs

Warning signs of prescription drug misuse or abuse can be similar to the warning signs of street drug use. Look for behavioral changes, such as increased social isolation. Also, take notice of any mood changes, such as increased irritability or sadness.

If you suspect your teen may be abusing prescription drugs, talk to your teen about your concerns. Also, discuss your suspicions with your teen’s pediatrician.

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