There's Nothing Safe About Abusing Painkillers

The Dublin ACT Coalition would like to thank coalition members, The Dublin Police and Washington Township Fire and EMS, for the work they do to promote substance abuse prevention.  A special thank you to both Chief Woo and Chief von Eckartsberg for their outstanding leadership and commitment to keeping Dublin a healthy and safe community.  Their active involvement in the Dublin ACT Coalition truly makes a difference!

 

 

Take a moment to view Dublin ACT's two coalition created prescription drug abuse/misuse prevention PSAs.

Dublin ACT PSA from Jay V. Sin on Vimeo.

FACT:  Unintentional drug poisoning is the second leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. and the leading cause in many states (including Ohio).

FACT:  The Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that approximately 2,700 young people between 12 and 17 years of age abuse a prescription painkiller every day for the first time, one in three teens report knowing someone who abuses prescription drugs, and four of the top five drugs abused by 12th graders are prescription or non-prescription medications.

FACT:  Approximately 70% of people who abuse prescription medications get them from family or friends, often from the medicine cabinet.

Prescription Drug Dangers
Although teens are turning away from street drugs, now there's a new threat and it's from the family medicine cabinet: The abuse of prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Parents and caregivers are the first line of defense in addressing this troubling trend.

What's the problem?
Teens are abusing some prescription and over-the-counter drugs to get high. This includes painkillers, such as those drugs prescribed after surgery; depressants, such as sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs; and stimulants, such as those drugs prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Teens are also abusing over-the-counter drugs, such as cough and cold remedies.


Every day 2,500 youth age 12 to 17 abuse a pain reliever for the very first time. More teens abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug except marijuana. In 2008, more than 2.1 million teens ages 12 to 17 reported abusing prescription drugs.Among 12- and 13-year-olds, prescription drugs are the drug of choice.


Because these drugs are so readily available, and many teens believe they are a safe way to get high, teens who wouldn't otherwise touch illicit drugs might abuse prescription drugs. And not many parents are talking to them about it, even though teens report that parental disapproval is a powerful way to keep them away from drugs.

What are the dangers?
There are serious health risks related to abuse of prescription drugs. A single large dose of prescription or over-the-counter painkillers or depressants can cause breathing difficulty that can lead to death. Stimulant abuse can lead to hostility or paranoia, or the potential for heart system failure or fatal seizures. Even in small doses, depressants and painkillers have subtle effects on motor skills, judgment, and ability to learn.


The abuse of OTC cough and cold remedies can cause blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, coma, and even death. Many teens report mixing prescription drugs, OTC drugs, and alcohol. Using these drugs in combination can cause respiratory failure and death.
Prescription and OTC drug abuse is addictive. Between 1995 and 2005, treatment admissions for prescription painkillers increased more than 300 percent.


  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. Thank you for visiting theantidrug.com. You are now leaving the site. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is not responsible for the content or information gathering practices of other websites you are linking to.(2009).
    National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2008
  • Ibid
  • Partnership for Drug-free America, Partnership Attitude Tracking Study [PATS] 2007
  • Treatment Episode Data Set [TEDS]. (2006). Substance abuse treatment admissions by primary substance of abuse according to sex, age group, race and ethnicity, 2004. Thank you for visiting theantidrug.com. You are now leaving the site. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is not responsible for the content or information gathering practices of other websites you are linking to.
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Effects of Prescription and OTC Drug Abuse
When taken properly and under a medical provider's supervision, prescription drugs can have many benefits. Unfortunately, many teens are abusing these drugs to get high or for other effects. Teens say they are abusing prescription and OTC drugs because they are easy to get and they think they are a safe way to get high.
Why should parents care about this?

REASON #1: More teens abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug, except marijuana.1
Many young people wrongly believe that prescription and OTC drugs are safe to abuse, when in fact they can be just as risky as street drugs, if taken improperly.

REASON #2: Prescription and OTC drugs are easily accessible.
The vast majority of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends and relatives. In fact, more than half of teens who abuse prescription painkillers say they get them from friends or relatives, for free. Prescription and OTC drugs are easy to get at home, at a grandparent's house, and even at school.
The Internet can also supply teens with prescription or OTC drugs. There are hundreds of Web sites that illegally sell drugs without a prescription. There are also many Web sites that teach teens which drugs to use to get high, how much to take, or how to mix drugs for certain effects. Teens can then venture out to the local grocery or drugstore to buy cough and cold medications, and put the dangerous new information they've learned online to use - risking significant health consequences.
Find out more about where teens get prescription and OTC drugs and learn how to limit your teen's access to these drugs.

REASON #3: Many teens believe it is safe to abuse prescription and OTC drugs.
About half of teens do not see great risk in abusing prescription drugs, and one-third of teens believe there is nothing wrong with using prescription drugs occasionally for non-medical reasons. Teens don't understand that when abused, prescription and OTC drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs.

REASON #4: Abuse of prescription drugs can be dangerous, even fatal.
Abusing prescription drugs like painkillers, depressants, or stimulants, can have tragic consequences, from serious injury to death. These are powerful drugs that can have unpredictable effects when abused. Teens often take prescription drugs with street drugs or alcohol, which only adds to the dangers, like breathing problems, seizures, or heart failure.

REASON #5: Prescription drug abuse can limit your teen's potential.
Prescription and OTC drug abuse can ruin promising lives. Many of these drugs are addicting. Teens who first abuse prescription drugs before age 16 also have a greater risk of drug dependence or abuse later in life. Abuse of these drugs can interfere with your teen's ability to learn and succeed in school. Prescription drug abuse is also illegal and can have serious consequences.


  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. Thank you for visiting theantidrug.com. You are now leaving the site. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is not responsible for the content or information gathering practices of other websites you are linking to.(2009).
    National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2008
  • Ibid
  • Partnership for Drug-free America, Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) 2005 Thank you for visiting theantidrug.com. You are now leaving the site. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is not responsible for the content or information gathering practices of other websites you are linking to.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. Thank you for visiting theantidrug.com. You are now leaving the site. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is not responsible for the content or information gathering practices of other websites you are linking to.(2009).
    National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2008

Why Teens Abuse Prescription and OTC Drugs
Teens report many reasons for abusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Like with street drugs, prescription and OTC drugs are often abused by teens to get high. This might be to party, to escape reality, to experiment, or to relieve boredom.
But teens also say there are other reasons to abuse prescription drugs, beyond just getting high:1

  • Some teens say they abuse these drugs to help them cope, such as to manage stress, depression, or anxiety, or to help them relax.
  • Teens also report abusing prescription drugs to help them deal with pressures. For example, some teens say they abuse stimulants to help them do better in school by increasing alertness or concentration. Others report abusing stimulants to help control their weight.
  • Teens also report they are abusing these drugs to self-medicate, in order to do things like relieve pain or sleep better.

Teens also give other "practical" reasons for abuse of these drugs. For example, they say they abuse prescription painkillers because they believe it is not illegal, there is less shame attached to using them, there are fewer side effects than street drugs, and because some parents "don't care as much if you get caught."
Talk to your teen about the risks of taking any medication without a doctor's supervision. Prescription and OTC drugs are powerful and, when abused, can be just as dangerous as street drugs.


  • Boyd, McCabe, Cranford & Young, 2006; CASA 2005
  • PATS, 2005 (released 2006)

Where Teens Find Prescription Drugs
Friends and the family medicine cabinet are the major sources of these drugs. More than seventy percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers say they get them from family or friends. Others may abuse their own prescription medicine. Teens also report that these drugs are not hard to find. About 40 percent of 12th graders say that painkillers are fairly or very easy to get, and more than half say the same of stimulants.
Where should you look to make sure prescription drugs are not readily available?

Rx Danger Zones
Take the Tour >
At Home: A teen may scout his own home first if he's looking to get high from prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
With Friends: Talk with the parents in other households your teen has access to about safeguarding medications
With Relatives: Grandparents may be another source of prescription drugs for teens. In fact, 10 percent of teens say they took drugs from friends or relatives without asking.

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. Thank you for visiting theantidrug.com. You are now leaving the site. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is not responsible for the content or information gathering practices of other websites you are linking to.(2009).
    National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2008. Office of Applied Studies
  • Monitoring the Future, the University of Michigan, 2007. Thank you for visiting theantidrug.com. You are now leaving the site. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is not responsible for the content or information gathering practices of other websites you are linking to.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. Thank you for visiting theantidrug.com. You are now leaving the site. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is not responsible for the content or information gathering practices of other websites you are linking to.(2009).
    National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2008. Office of Applied Studies

Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse
Think about your home. What prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs do you have? Where are they kept? Would you know if some were missing? The good news is that you can take steps immediately to limit access to these drugs and help keep your teen drug-free:

  • Safeguard all drugs at home. Monitor quantities and control access. Take note of how many pills are in a bottle or pill packet, and keep track of refills. This goes for your own medication, as well as for your teen and other members of your household. If you find you have to refill medication more often than expected, there could be a real problem—someone may be taking your medication without your knowledge. If your teen has been prescribed a drug, be sure you control the medication, and monitor dosages and refills.
  • Set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider's advice and dosages. Make sure your teen uses prescription drugs only as directed by a medical provider and follows instructions for OTC products carefully. This includes taking the proper dosage and not using with other substances without a medical provider's approval. Teens should never take prescription or OTC drugs with street drugs or alcohol. If you have any questions about how to take a drug, call your family physician or pharmacist.
  • Be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medicines. Examine your own behavior to ensure you set a good example. If you misuse your prescription drugs, such as share them with your kids, or abuse them, your teen will take notice. Avoid sharing your drugs and always follow your medical provider's instructions.
  • Properly conceal and dispose of old or unneeded medicines in the trash. Unneeded prescription drugs should be hidden and thrown away in the trash. So that teens or others don't take them out of the trash, you can mix them with an undesirable substance (like used coffee grounds or kitty litter) and put the mixture in an empty can or bag. Unless the directions say otherwise, do NOT flush medications down the drain or toilet because the chemicals can pollute the water supply. Also, remove any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles or pill packages before you throw them away.
  • Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well. Make sure your friends and relatives, especially grandparents, know about the risks, too, and encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicine cabinets. If there are other households your teen has access to, talk to those families as well about the importance of safeguarding medications. If you don't know the parents of your child's friends, then make an effort to get to know them, and get on the same page about rules and expectations for use of all drugs, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Follow up with your teen's school administration to find out what they are doing to address issues of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse in schools.

Talk to your teen about the dangers of abusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These are powerful drugs that, when abused, can be just as dangerous as street drugs. Tell your teen the risks far outweigh any "benefits."

How to Dispose of Prescription Drugs
Parents and caregivers are the first line of defense in addressing the troubling trend of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse. Take an inventory in your house and make sure you follow these guidelines for proper drug disposal:

  • Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers and throw them in the trash.
  • Mix prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and put them in containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, to make sure the drugs aren't found and abused by someone else.
  • Flush prescription drugs down the toilet only if the label specifically tells you to.
  • Take advantage of community pharmaceutical take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Some communities have pharmaceutical take-back programs or community solid-waste programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Where these exist, they are a good way to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Prescription Drugs
During a visit with your family doctor or health provider, you may not have a lot of time to discuss medication prescribed to you or your teen. However, there are several important questions that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE)suggest you ask, especially if you have a teen. Asking these questions will help ensure medicines are safely used in your home, and alert you to prescription drugs that have a high rate of abuse.

  • Will this medicine work safely with the other prescription and nonprescription medicines currently taken by my teen or myself?
  • What are the side effects that can happen with this medicine and what should be done if they occur?
  • Does this prescription drug have the potential for addiction and/or abuse?
  • What are the specific signs and symptoms of addiction or abuse I need to be looking for (for myself and for someone else)?
  • How should I store this medicine? How should I dispose of any leftover medicine if advised by the doctor to stop taking it?

If you are unable to get these questions answered completely during your visit, you can also speak with other qualified health professionals, specifically a physician assistant, a nurse practitioner, and/or a trusted pharmacist about any medications that are prescribed to you or other family members.


  • http://www.talkaboutrx.org/ Thank you for visiting theantidrug.com. You are now leaving the site. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is not responsible for the content or information gathering practices of other websites you are linking to.

Using Prescription Drugs Responsibly
It is not uncommon for parents to have occasionally shared their prescription medication with their teenagers, such as a painkiller for a headache, a sports-related injury, etc. Despite the good intentions, this practice can be risky for teens. By sharing prescription drugs with their teenagers, parents may send the message that there's nothing wrong with taking another person's drugs.
Parental disapproval is a powerful way to keep teens away from drugs, so make sure that your words — and your actions — communicate to teens that it's not safe to take someone else's prescription medication.
Here are other ways to set a good example in your own approach to prescription drugs:

  • If you or your family members are taking prescription medication, discuss the instructions regarding prescribed doses, the time between doses, and the need to stay away from alcohol and certain other medications or foods when taking a prescription.
  • As with street drugs, express clear disapproval of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse to ensure your teen knows exactly where you stand.
  • Check prescription and OTC labels about what not to do—for example, driving or using machinery when taking prescription drugs—and enforce these safeguards with family members taking the medication.
  • Be careful not to make exceptions to these rules when you are stressed out, uncomfortable, or in a hurry. Consistency is important to send a clear message.
  • Talk to your children about the dangers of prescription and OTC abuse, and regularly reinforce this message and the rules that you've set for your family.
  • http://www.family.samhsa.gov/be/prescriptionharm.aspx Thank you for visiting theantidrug.com. You are now leaving the site. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is not responsible for the content or information gathering practices of other websites you are linking to.

Information taken from: www.theantidrug.com

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE:
National Council on Patient Information and Education (www.talkaboutrx.org)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (www.nida.nih.gov)
Office of National Drug Control Policy (www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov)
Parents.The Anti-Drug (www.theantidrug.com)
Partnership for a Drug-Free America (www.drugfree.org)
Stop Medicine Abuse (www.stopmedicineabuse.org/) created by the
Consumer Healthcare Products Association
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (www.samhsa.gov)
The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy Generation Rx Initiative
(www.pharmacy.ohio-state.edu/outreach/generation-rx)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above graphic is currently being utilized in local Dublin Pharmacies to increase awareness regarding prescription drug use/misuse. Click on the image to view the full size version.