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Preventing prescription drug abuse by teens: recognize and react

HEA-Prevent-teen-drug-abuse(ARA) – Every day, millions of Americans appropriately use prescription medicines to improve their health. But what happens when a teenager or child misuses these products? How can parents recognize and respond to the signs of potential prescription drug abuse?

Nearly one in four high school seniors report that they have abused prescription drugs by the time they graduate, according to a recent study. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports prescription medications are the drug of choice among children as young as 12.

Why are teens abusing prescription drugs? One factor is access—they are found in your own home. Also, many teens incorrectly believe there is nothing wrong with using medications without a prescription once in a while, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Under a doctor’s supervision, medications can be highly effective. However, they become dangerous when used improperly and without a prescription.

Every day, 2,500 children ages 12 to 17 abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time. “While overall drug abuse among teens is decreasing, prescription drug abuse is growing,” says Amy Garcia, a registered nurse and executive director of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). “Parents and schools need to work together to educate our children about proper use of prescription medicines.”

As a first step, Garcia advises parents to learn about prescription drug abuse and educate their family. “It is important that everyone in the family understands that doctors prescribe medicine based on specific criteria—age, weight, condition and other medications. That is one of the reasons prescriptions shouldn’t be shared,” explains Garcia.

Stay alert to your children’s behavior, including signs that may indicate drug abuse, such as changes in your teen’s appearance, mood, grades and friends. Clean out the medicine cabinet of any unused prescriptions and monitor it regularly.

Keeping your house safe is important; but remember, you will not always be in control of your child’s environment. In fact, more than 65 percent of teens say they get prescription pain medications from friends or relatives, often without their knowledge.

To educate parents and young people about the serious risks of abusing prescription medicines, NASN has teamed up with PriCara, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., on an educational program called “Smart Moves, Smart Choices.”  The program offers a free series of downloadable videos and a guide for parents available now at: www.pbs.org/newshour/thenews/themedic.
Courtesy of ARAcontent

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