Archive for category Prescription Drug Abuse

How To Protect Kids From Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse among kids has become one of the common problems that parents are currently facing. Thousands of families are affected by this kind of abuse each year, which has led to illegal drug use, frequent emergency room visits, overdose deaths and an increase in the number of crimes related to drug use. Parents are losing their children at such an alarming rate that unless parents do something about it to prevent their children from succumbing to such abuse, then the rates would continue to increase.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), majority of prescription drugs that are abused come from homes. This means that the children have easier access to these prescription drugs in which their parents are taking. Unknowingly, parents would just let these prescription drugs stay inside their medicine cabinets without any fear or doubt that their children would ever think of using them.

Statistics on Prescription Drug Abuse

prescription drug abuse kids

Prescription drugs have been developed with the intention of helping people who are in need of treatment for their medical conditions. Unfortunately, along with the good comes the bad; these prescription drugs, which are potent when used inappropriately, may cause more harm than good. Nevertheless, when these drugs are used accordingly, it is safe. However, with improper storage and disposal practices, this increases the risk of leading to drug abuse, accidental poisoning and environmental harm.

The amount of drugs that a person takes determines its effect – small doses act as a stimulant while large doses act as a sedative. Massive doses can actually kill a person in a matter of minutes.

Listed below are statistics regarding prescription drug abuse:

  • Unintentional drug overdose from prescription drug abuse causes one American to die every 15 minutes.
  • 70% of those engaged in prescription drug abuse get them from family or friends.
  • In 2010, there were more than 22,000 overdose deaths involving prescription medications.
  • Surprisingly, there are more deaths recorded from prescription drug abuse than inhalants, cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogen combined.
  • In 2011, an average of 13 prescriptions for every person in America has been given by physicians.
  • The cost of prescription opioids reached $78.5B in 2013.
  • At least 2,500 youths abuse a pain reliever for the first time.
  • According to a survey, 50% of teenagers believe that it is safer to use prescription drugs than street drugs.
  • Teens who abuse prescription drugs are twice as likely to use alcohol and five times more likely to use marijuana.
  • Fentanyl, an opioid painkiller, killed more than 1,000 people in 2007.

Why are kids using drugs?

teen prescription drug abuse

The reasons why children are using drugs may differ from one another. But more often than not, drugs have become their best friend without them knowing that it has become their silent killer.

It is important for parents to understand the behavior of their children and not to ignore or underestimate the impact of stress or personal problems. Parents should always have a watchful eye over their children, especially children in their teens. In addition to being a vigilant parent is the need to provide necessary information for the children to understand why they are educated not to get involved with drugs.

Some of the reasons why kids fall for drugs are:

Used as a stress-buster

Parents may not realize that stress can also get in the way of the life of their children. Most often, we associate stress with adults who face more challenges every day. But children, too, do find themselves all stressed out because of a number of reasons: homework, new lessons to study for tests, projects, teen problems, etc.

To be part of a group

Teens, most especially, want to feel that they belong to a group. They want to fit in to avoid being made fun of by others and become a part of a “cool” group. Moreover, teens want others to see them as a worthy being; however, sometimes, with their desire to be accepted, notwithstanding the potential harm, it can drive them to engage in such hostile or dangerous behavior. One study shows that 65% of teens use drugs to help them feel better about themselves; these teens have low self-esteem and they are likely to become a part of the wrong crowd.

Used as self-medication

Teens think highly of themselves during adolescence that they feel like they do not always need to seek advice or help from their elders. Accordingly, during this stage, they undergo a transition period that makes it difficult for them to truly find themselves when their elders expect them to act like adults yet still treat them like children. Therefore, sometimes, they undergo depression without them truly knowing what is happening to them and that reaching for a drug to help cope with the symptoms has become an easier solution.

To look and feel like a grown-up

Teens want to be treated like adults as they no longer see themselves as the kids who would always be playing at the park with their mommies. They want to be given more privileges. With the thought that they are no longer kids, they start to seek for things that would make them feel like adults. Sadly, they are often caught up in their own web of unrealistic expectations that they end up doing inappropriate things such as drinking alcohol and taking drugs.

Looking up to their parents’ behavior

No one is perfect and each one of us may have some issues of our own. As adults, we sometimes act without truly thinking if it shows a positive effect towards others or not. Grabbing a drink after coming home from work may have become a habit, which is unknowingly being picked up on by children who then start to consider it normal. Consequently, kids mimic their parents’ behavior no matter if they are right or wrong; for as long as they know that their parents have done it, they think that it is always right.

Out of curiosity

Teens are naturally bold and thrill-seeking; the more that they are cautioned from doing something, all the more that they will find ways on how they can be able to experience something they were told to avoid. Trying new things is among the characteristics of teens. Being teens, they have more freedom since they are less supervised and when parents are away, they just might sneak into their parent’s room and try whatever they come across with. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol can be among them.

As their means of rebellion

Parents and teens often collide even because of the small things. And being teens, they feel that they should be treated differently. When they do not end up coming up with a compromise and teens refuse to see things the way their parents see them, teens may turn to drugs because they know that it will infuriate their parents.

Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse or Misuse

prescription drug abuse

Parents should be aware of the different behaviors of their children, most especially if they notice anything unusual that their children may be involved with. Some of the signs that your kid might be using drugs are:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Mood changes – gets irritated easily, lacks interest in activities
  • Withdraws from any form of gathering
  • Decreased focus on school work
  • Missing prescription medicines
  • Changes in the relationship with other family members

Tips To Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there are about 6 million Americans who abuse prescription drugs – usually with their homes as the source of these drugs.

The most commonly abused drugs are opioids. When these are used along with other prescription medications such as muscle relaxers, stimulants or antidepressants, they can provide a cocaine-like effect.

To reduce the risk of drug use, the following should be done:

  • Always keep drugs out of reach. Medications should always be stored in a locked cabinet out of children’s reach. Some small children can accidentally swallow these drugs which can lead them to dangerous situations such as increased heart rate, decreased respiration or even death.
  • Keep a list of all your medications. Always make an inventory of all your medications, whether they are prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications. Make it a habit to track down the medications that you are taking. Count the medications remaining in the container and ensure that it’s the correct amount. About 64% of kids aged between 12 and 17 years old were discovered to have abused pain relievers. According to them, they acquired the drugs from their own homes or from their friends without their parents’ knowledge.
  • Properly dispose of unused medications. It is unsafe to just throw them in the garbage bin because there might be others who would see them and use them. Instead, take it out from its original container and mix it with sawdust or used coffee grounds and place it inside a sealed bag that can be disposed of in the trash. You can also inquire from the DEA for any drop-off areas or takeback initiatives where these unused medications can be brought for proper disposal.
  • Some medications have instructions that suggest having these drugs flushed down the drain. Examples of these medications are Duragesic Transdermal Patch, Avinza, Percocet, Fentora, and Oxycontin.
  • Never become too comfortable leaving potentially addictive drugs lying around. Always keep them in a locked cabinet.
  • Be vigilant during trips to visit relatives and friends, most especially when visiting the elders. They are most likely taking quite a number of medications which can be left lying around in their houses.
  • It is not advisable to keep unused medications and save it for future use. There are certain types of medications that are not supposed to be stored. Such medications can only be used with a proper prescription.
  • Never make it a habit of offering your medication to others because only a doctor can determine the kind of medication needed by a person. There are certain drugs that can produce allergic reactions to others which can lead to unfavorable circumstances. To be safe, let your friend or anyone who asked helped from you to seek for medical advice instead.
  • Even over-the-counter drugs, such as cough syrups, can become a source of addiction.
  • It is extremely important to talk to your children about the dangers of using prescription drugs. Let them know that taking medications without any doctor’s advice can be potentially lethal. Clearly, instill in their minds that the medications are not prescribed for them.
  • If there is a need for your children to take these medications during school hours, inform the school about it and work out a plan with the school nurse or principal on how the medications should be given to your child. Demand that any unused medications should be returned to you.


The safety of children should always come from the parents’ effort. This includes providing kids the knowledge about the dangers of engaging in prescription drug abuse. When children are well aware of these facts, they are less likely to use them as much the same way when parents provide quality time to be with their children.

These children are unlikely to feel the need to use drugs or alcohol when they feel that the whole family have their love and support all the time.

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Effective Drug Disposal Techniques To Prevent Drug Abuse At Home

The world has seen an increase in the number of drug-related deaths in recent months. Most of the drug users have opted to buy their substances of choice from clubs, parties and music festivals because they want to achieve that certain kind of high that they could not normally get. Their reasons may vary but the result is the same: drug addiction that may lead to death.

Some of these commonly abused drugs are medically prescribed to treat chronic pain. However, the effect of masking out the pain is the release of dopamine, the “happy center” of the brain. Taking more than the necessary amount may lead to hallucinations, psychological disturbance, and other unfavorable symptoms.

Some individuals may have access to these drugs from patients who don’t use these substances anymore. However, not being able to properly dispose these drugs may lead to these substances falling into the wrong hands and getting hooked on it.

There is a need for people to be aware that after they have been treated from their health issues, leftover medicines should not be kept inside the house, most especially within reach of young children. Proper disposal prevents accidental exposure and intentional misuse of these drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Agency has carefully classified controlled substances into Schedules I to IV. Every drug that falls under these categories has very strict implementation of the regulation of these drugs. In the same way, the agency has also amended the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 (“Disposal Act”) to ensure that all unused drugs should be discarded safely.

What is the Disposal Act?

The Disposal Act amended the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to give the DEA authority to promulgate new regulations, within the framework of the CSA that will allow ultimate users to deliver unused or leftover controlled substances to appropriate entities for disposal in a safe and effective manner consistent with effective controls against diversion. The main goal of the Disposal Act is to encourage the community to develop a variety of methods of collection and disposal in a secure, convenient, and responsible manner.

Most Commonly Abused Drugs at Home

Some people turn to prescription drugs for several reasons, some of which include the following:

  • To relax and be free from tension
  • To reduce appetite
  • To achieve an unusual high
  • To respond to peer pressure
  • To escape from personal problems

Worse, some individuals think that using prescription drugs is legal and safe, because these are prescribed by physicians.

Several cases involving individuals rushed to the emergency department were related to misuse of prescription drugs intended for their family members. Some of these drugs include:

  • Pain relievers (Oxycontin)
  • Tranquilizers (Valium, Zolpidem)
  • Stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin)
  • Phenobarbital
  • Codeine Syrup/Promethazine

All of these drugs may produce untoward effects if ingested in large amounts and may eventually lead to death.

Options on How to Dispose Unused Medicines

Any unused or expired medicines should be immediately taken out from homes to prevent possible misuse and ingestion of children and other individuals. Some may become too curious about the effects of certain drugs most especially if these are drugs that are being mentioned online and in news articles. In short, curiosity may result to potential drug addiction.

Take Back Initiative

To address the issue on exposure to leftover medication, the government has created a Take Back program to safely dispose most types of unneeded or unused medicines. Collection sites are put up by the DEA periodically so that communities may be able to safely dispose their unused prescription drugs.

These take back programs can also be hosted by the local law enforcement agencies in different communities. At the same time, the people in the community may be able to contact their local waste management authorities to learn more about the proper disposal options and guidelines for their areas.

Drug Collection Stations

Another option is to dispose these unused medicines via DEA-authorized collectors that can safely and securely collect these medicines containing controlled substances. DEA-authorized collectors include hospitals, clinics or retail pharmacies. Some authorized collection sites offer mail-back programs wherein they provide drop boxes to help consumers in safely disposing their unused medicines.

For Communities with no Take Back Program

Not all communities may have the Take Back program or DEA-authorized collection stations, but that does not mean that unused medicines should be kept.

Throw them in the trash

The other option of disposing these medicines is by throwing them in the trash. Disposing them should not be done just by throwing them away in their containers. A more effective disposal method is for the capsules or tablets to be mixed with undesirable substances to prevent ingestion. This way, people will be instantly discouraged to take the drugs. The mixture should be placed inside a sealed plastic container. Ensure that all personal information on the prescription label on the empty medicine bottle has been taken out when disposing it.

Flush them in the toilet

Any unused medicines should be properly disposed to prevent from being misused by other individuals. If disposal options such as a take back program or a DEA-authorized collector sites are not readily available, it is best recommended that these medicines be flushed down the sink or toilet as soon as they are no longer needed.

Here is the list of medicines recommended for immediate disposal by flushing:

Medicines Form Active ingredient
Abstral sublingual tablet Fentanyl
Actiq oral transmucosal lozenge Fentanyl Citrate
Avinza extended release capsule Morphine Sulfate
Belbuca buccal soluble film Buprenorphine Hydrochloride
Buprenorphine Hydrochloride sublingual tablet Buprenorphine Hydrochloride
Butrans transdermal patch system Buprenorphine
Daytrana transdermal patch system Methylphenidate
Demerol tablets Hydrpmorphone Hydrochloride
Diladulid oral liquid Hydrpmorphone Hydrochloride
Dolophine Hydrochloride tablets Methadone Hydrochloride
Duragesic extended release patch Fentanyl
Embeda extended release capsule Morphine Sulfate
Exalgo extended release tablets Hydrpmorphone Hydrochloride
Fentora buccal tablets Fentanyl Citrate
Hysingla ER extended release tablets Hydrocodone Bitartrate
Kadian extended release capsule Morphine Sulfate
Methadone Hydrochloride oral solution Methadone Hydrochloride
Methadose tablets Methadone Hydrochloride
Morphabond extended release tablets Morphine Sulfate
Morphine Sulfate tablets Morphine Sulfate
MS Contin extended release tablets Morphine Sulfate
Nucynta ER extended release tablets Tapentadol
Onsolis buccal soluble film Fentanyl Citrate
Opana ER extended release tablets Oxymorhone Hydrochloride
Oxecta immediate release tablets Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Oxycodone Hydrochloride capsules Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Oxycodone Hydrochloride oral solution Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Oxycontin extended release tablets Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Percocet tablets Acetaminophen, Oxycodone Hydrocloride
Percodan tablets Aspirin, Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Suboxone sublingual film Buprenorphone Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride
Targiniq extended release tablets Oxycodone Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride
Xartemis XR tablets Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Xtampza ER extended release capsule Oxycodone
Xyrem oral solution Sodium Oxybate
Zohydro ER extended release capsule Hydrocodone Bitartrate
Zubsolv sublingual tablets Buprenorphine Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride

*Updated as of April 2016

There is a need for immediate disposal of these medicines to ensure that no one will be able to use them or accidentally ingest them due to their health risks.

In addition, It is unwise to turn over any unused medicine to another person whom you think is having the same kind of medical condition as you had. It is best to seek professional help rather than to give out any of your unused medicines.

Prior to receiving any kind of medication such as the ones mentioned above, patients should be advised on how to properly dispose unused medications in the event that they have purchased more than they have needed in the process. The doctors should be able to explain information about the expected side effects of the medication, proper handling and disposal instructions and the medication guide.

The FDA together with other federal agencies and medicine manufacturers are committed to finding other options in developing alternative safety disposal policies.

How Dangerous Are Prescription Drugs If Not Disposed Properly?

Prescription drugs such as very potent narcotic drugs and several other controlled substances have instructions for flushing to reduce the danger of unintentional use or misuse.

Fentanyl patch, for instance, is a kind of medication in patch form that delivers the potent medication through the skin. It is advised to flush used or leftover patches because it can cause severe breathing problems and lead to death if accidentally ingested by babies, children, pets and even adults.

Even if a patch has been discarded after use, there are still some traces of the drug left in the patch. That is why it is advised to flush it down the sink or toilet instead of just throwing it in trash bins.

Environmental Concerns in Drug Disposal

Some people are questioning the way of disposing unused medications since they worry that trace levels of drug residue may be flushed down into rivers and lakes and affect the drinking water supply of the community.

Environmental experts have opposed this alternative way of unused medicine disposal, saying that instead of protecting the community from these harmful substances, the flushed drug substances may find their way to the water supply and endanger the health of the whole community.

However, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are continuously monitoring this method of medicine disposal and found no indication of environmental effects due to flushing so far. In other words, flushing unused potent substances poses no harm to the community since the effect of these drugs can only be achieved when the drug itself has been ingested and fully metabolized by the body.

The FDA has been conscientious in reviewing each kind of drug substance that is safe to be disposed by flushing down in the sink of toilets. Their primary aim is to keep the community free from harmful substances and provide a healthy community to live in. It is highly recommended to read the DFA document on Disposal of Unused Medicines to know more about the agency’s suggested disposal methods.

Proper Disposal of Inhaler Products

Inhaler products are prescribed to those who have asthma or other respiratory problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These inhalers used to have CFCs, which were found to be harmful to the environment as they may cause destruction of the ozone layer. These days, however, the harmful chemical in inhalers have been replaced by more environmentally friendly substances.

When these inhalers have been consumed, they should also be properly disposed. Since these are aerosol-type products, puncturing the inhaler or setting it directly on fire might be dangerous. Make sure to read the instructions on the label carefully prior to disposing it.


Medicines are intended to help treat medical conditions. However, if these substances are used beyond what is recommended or used by individuals who should not be taking that kind of medicine, it will definitely cause harm.

Drug addiction is a huge problem that continues to plague so many countries. Let us help by initiating campaigns to join the government’s program of properly disposing potent drugs to keep our communities healthy and safe.

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Creative Packaging For Illegal Drugs Attracts More Teens

Manufacturers of addiction-prone illegal substances keep coming up with ingenious and creative ways to lure teenagers into abuse. In popular media, drugs are also considered “cool” and are effective ways to make a person famous.

happy teenagerThis information was shared by Lynn Riemer, who works as president of ACT on Drugs, in front of students of Durango High School. “Things are changing so fast in the illegal drug industry, it’s hard to keep up,” Riemer shared via a news release.

She understands that the old approach of lecturing teenagers to stay away from drugs might not work in the current generation. “I’m not here representing the ‘Just Say No’ program because it doesn’t work… I’m not here to judge you or tell you how to live your life. I’m just going to stand here and give you factual information,” Riemer expressed. Besides, “there’s lots of conflicting information out there, you have to look for reputable scientific studies,” she added.

Previous studies have confirmed the adverse effect of abusing marijuana and illicit substances on teenage brains, and Riemer shared this information with the students. “Teen brains are more likely to become addicted, and because drugs make you feel good, unbelievably good, better than anything natural, they make it so your brain can’t uptake serotonin and dopamine and can’t naturally feel happiness any more.”

In a separate discussion with parents and members of the community, Riemer emphasized the importance of being aware and alert in terms of drug abuse by their kids. “Pay attention to what you see, pay attention to what you smell, pay attention to what you hear… And please don’t think drug dealers still look like a homeless guy under a bridge. They look like everyone in this room.”


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Drug Overdose Rates in Young Americans Increase Up To Four Times In Select U.S. States

Drug abuse remains one of the country’s worst social and health issues, and this new report from a non-profit health organization confirms the already worsening scenario.

drug overdose deaths in teenagersAccording to Trust for America’s Health, deaths linked to drug overdose rose to more than twice in young Americans over more than a decade. From 3.1 deaths per 100,000 individuals aged 12 to 25 in 1999-2001, the figure has since ballooned to 7.3 in 2011-2013. More than half of the reason was due to prescription drug abuse, while a portion was due to the use of heroin.

Trust for America’s Health executive director Jeffrey Levi shared in a news report more about the increase in the number of drug overdose deaths. “These twin epidemics have contributed to the recent tragic rise in overdose deaths,” he said.

Overdose rates vary by state, based on the report’s findings. For instance, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, Montana, and Wyoming registered more than fourfold increase in drug overdose rates. Meanwhile, 12 states have more than tripled their original numbers, and 18 states registered more than twice the previous death toll.

In a more startling discovery, people aged 19 to 25 have the highest risk of fatality due to drug overdose, at 12.7 deaths per 100,000. In contrast, teenagers between 12 to 18 years old registered only 1.6 fatalities per 100,000. “We have a huge opportunity in kids when they are in school, in their early teen years, so that when they reach this older age they will be less likely to be using,” Levi added.

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Teenagers Given More Antipsychotic Drugs Over The Years

A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry discovered that adolescents are receiving an increasing amount of antipsychotic medication in recent years.

girl depressed psychotic drugsA team of researchers led by Dr. Mark Olfson of New York’s Columbia University reviewed prescription data from U.S. retail pharmacies to check the trend in antipsychotic prescriptions over the years. While children 12 years old and below were issued fewer drugs for psychosis from 2006 to 2010, antipsychotic prescriptions for teenagers from 13 to 18 years of age rose by 1.19 percent. Meanwhile, people aged 19 to 24 were prescribed 0.84 percent more than in previous years. “In older teenagers and young adults, a developmental period of high risk for the onset of psychotic disorders, antipsychotic use increased between 2006 and 2010,” the researchers said in a news release.

The study proponents conclude that the differences in data for each age group may have something to do with the need to address their respective concerns. “Age and sex antipsychotic use patterns suggest that much of the antipsychotic treatment of children and younger adolescents targets age-limited behavioral problems,” the team added.

Furthermore, the research team believes that prescribing antipsychotic drugs should involve more responsibility. “Clinical policy makers have opportunities to promote improved quality and safety of antipsychotic medication use in young people through expanded use of quality measures, physician education, telephone- and Internet-based child and adolescent psychiatry consultation models and improved access to alternative, evidence-based psychosocial treatments.”

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Double Increase in Neonatal Withdrawal Reveals Rising Trend of Prescription Drug Abuse

A new study published in the Journal of Perinatology discovered an alarming increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) from 2009 to 2012. Cases of infants born with NAS in the U.S. were roughly 3.4 of 1,000 births in 2009, but increased twofold to 5.8 for every thousand deliveries in 2012.

neonatal abstinence syndrome infant baby childStudy lead author Dr. Stephen Patrick, who works at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, said in a news report that the primary reason behind this trend is the increase in prescription drug abuse. “The rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome mirrors the rise we have seen in opioid pain reliever use across the nation. Our study finds that communities hardest hit by opioid use and their complications, like overdose death, have the highest rates of the NAS,” Patrick said. Meanwhile, senior study author Dr. William Cooper emphasized the impact of NAS in today’s society. “The findings of this study demonstrate that neonatal abstinence syndrome is a growing public health problem in the United States and places a tremendous burden on babies, their families, and the communities in which they live,” Cooper stated.

The country’s east south central section, composed of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, registered the highest rate of NAS at 16.2 births per thousand.

This study further confirms the importance of preventive intervention to address NAS, particularly by focusing on programs against opioid abuse. “Too often in our health system we react to problems instead of forging public health solutions. Imagine if we were able to use the dollars spent to treat NAS on improving public health systems aimed at preventing opioid misuse and improving access to drug treatment for mothers,” Patrick added.


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