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Teen Deaths Related to Prescription Drug Abuse Skyrocket

How you can help to prevent a leading cause of teen accidents and deaths.

The Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a rather alarming statistic this week regarding teen deaths. The incidents of teen fatalities related to poisonings among 15- to 19-year-olds increased more than 90 percent between 2000 and 2009. The CDC’s report states that this is a result of our country’s epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

Although many teens might otherwise shy away from illegal street drugs, more and more teens are turning to prescription drugs and over the counter medicines to get high. These drugs include pain killers that might be prescribed after a person undergoes surgery, depressants that are taken for sleep aid, depression or anxiety or stimulants such as those used for ADHD. The over the counter medicines include cough medicine and cold remedies. Narcotic pain killers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet or Lortab, including the generics such as methadone and hydrocodone are highly addictive and are very dangerous.  

Sadly, each day 2,500 students from 12 to 17 abuse a pain relieving drug for the first time. In fact, prescription medicine is the second most abused drug other than marijuana. Most teenagers obtain these prescription meds by stealing them from their parent’s medicine cabinets and even share them with friends or sell them at school.  So one easy way that parents can help reduce incidents of prescription medication abuse is to make sure that all old, unused prescription medication, especially the pain medication we receive after surgery is properly disposed of so they are not available to children who might otherwise experiment with them.

Next Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled its fourth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This provides all of us with an opportunity who have accumulated unwanted prescription medicines to safely dispose of those drugs. The last DEA sponsored event collected almost 200 tons of unwanted or expired medications. The total collected in the three prior events amounted to almost 500 tons of medicines.

“The amount of prescription drugs turned in by the American public during the past three Take-Back Day events speaks volumes about the need to develop a convenient way to rid homes of unwanted or expired prescription drugs,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart stated. To find out the nearest law enforcement office taking part in the program please visit the Collection Site Locator.

This very important, and obviously much needed service, could give new meaning to Spring Cleaning and could help to prevent a serious injury or death. Please take the time to participate in this very worthwhile event as our greatest responsibilty as parents is to help ensure our children's safety.

Steven DeVaux April 21, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Clearly parents are entirely responsible for this and should take appropriate steps to remove all drugs from the medicine cabinet and keep the in a secured location. It is malfeasence on the part of a parent not to. It is the equilavent of keeping a loaded unlocked gun on the dining room table. and parents are passively involved at that point.
aimee April 24, 2012 at 03:59 PM
You're kidding, right??
Chalise Grogan May 24, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Prescription drugs used in a recreational manner are not all just "taken from the parents". There is considerable illegal prescription drug dealing that works just like every other illegal drug market. This article provides absolutely no citation for the following comment: "Most teenagers obtain these prescription meds by stealing them from their parent’s medicine cabinets and even share them with friends or sell them at school." What does most mean? There's no data, statistics, or numbers referenced that back up this statement. I would be wary of deciding that medicine cabinets are always to blame without proper evidence.

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