The prescription drug problem

 A mother looked through the drawer for her medication and wondered how it could have disappeared.

To her alarm, after a phone call from the school principal, she found out that her daughter had taken the medication to high school.

The exchange of pills with other students is apparently a common occurrence.

Teenagers falsely assume that since prescription medication is legal the high achieved from it is safe.

The trend that is occurring in the United States at present has seen teens turning away from illegal drugs and turning to prescription drug abuse.

In an American study called Teens and Prescription Drugs, one-in-five teenagers reported using medication not prescribed for them.

The survey revealed the lack of understanding that surrounds prescription drug abuse. Teenagers reported that self-medicating to relieve pain, anxiety or to get to sleep with drugs not prescribed for them was acceptable.

They also falsely believed that prescription drugs were not addictive.

A booklet called The Truth about Prescription Drug Abuse, available online at, provides parents with information to educate themselves and their children.

This online booklet explains that man-made synthetic drugs such as OxyContin (in the same category as cocaine, Ritalin, Dexadrine, Demerol and Kapanol) and similar pain killers have a high potency and therefore a high overdose risk.

Overdose deaths with these drugs have more than doubled in a five-year period.

Information that is certainly worth sharing with our teenagers is that the distribution of prescription drugs (unless you are a doctor) is a form of drug dealing and is as illegal as dealing heroin or cocaine.

Drug dealing that causes death or a serious bodily injury can result in an extended term in prison for the dealer.

As parents, we need to take responsibility and ensure that medications are kept secure and monitored. Address any disappearance of medication or the appearance of unknown tablets and then keep addressing the issue until it is solved.

We have to dig beneath the surface of our teens' lives and confront issues such as this one.

Our role is to protect our children, as best we can, by accessing the knowledge that is readily available to us, to avoid the heartbreak of burying them because of an overdose.

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