Take Immediate Action to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

You can immediately take action and help keep your children drug-free. In fact, parents and caregivers are the first line of defense in addressing the troubling trend of teen prescription drug abuse. Ask yourself what drugs do you have and where are they kept in your home. Follow these guidelines to prevent prescription drug abuse in your home:

1.  Safeguard all drugs at home. Monitor quantities and control access. Take note of all medication for all household members, including how many pills are in each bottle or pill packet and keep track of refills. Keep all medications in a locked cabinet or hidden. Should you or someone else need refills of a particular drug more often than expected, someone may be abusing it. If your teen has been prescribed a drug, monitor dosages and refills.

2.  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. Make sure that he/she is taking the proper dosage and not using it with any other substances without a medical provider's approval. Teens should never mix prescription (or OTC) drugs with street drugs or alcohol.

3.  Be a good role model by following these same rules with your medications. Examine your own behavior to ensure you set a good example. If you misuse your prescription drugs, such as sharing them or disregarding dosing instructions, your teen will take notice.

4.   Properly dispose unused and expired drugs. Take advantage of the District Attorney’s County Prescription Drug Disposal Program, which provides locations throughout the County at which the public can conveniently, safely and confidentially dispose unwanted drugs. Programs such as this keep unused medicines out of the hands of our children and protect our environment by keeping these items out of our water supply. Flush prescription drugs down the toilet only if the label specifically directs you to do so. If a disposal program is not available, remove the drugs from their original containers, mix them with coffee grounds or cat litter, place everything in a sealed container, and dispose in the trash where they are unlikely to be found.

5.  Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well. Make sure your friends and relatives, especially grandparents, know about these risks also. Encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicine cabinets and safely dispose of unwanted medications. If there are other households your teen has access to, talk to those families as well about the importance of safeguarding medications. 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.

6. Talk to your teen about the dangers of abusing prescription and over-the-counterdrugs. Tell your children that prescription drugs, when abused, can be just as dangerous as street drugs. Explain that the risks far outweigh any "benefits” and share the other information provided here.