Prescription drug misuse and abuse is a real issue, and many dangerous myths exist about this issue.
According to the recent WOW coalition survey of Buckeye adults, a significant portion of adults in Buckeye believe prescription drugs are not as dangerous as illicit drugs. However, misused or abused prescription drugs are as—or more—dangerous than illicit drugs (the focus of next week’s blog).
The following is a list of five points every parent should know about prescription drug misuse and abuse.
5. Buckeye Teens Misuse and Abuse Rx drugs
Buckeye is fourth in Maricopa County for illegal youth prescription drug use based on the Mercy Maricopa Needs Assessment. In Buckeye, 20.6 percent of all students misused or abused medication in their lifetime, compared to 16.9 percent in Maricopa county. Of those, 9.4 percent misused or abused Rx drugs within the past thirty days of the survey (Mercy Maricopa Needs Assessment 2015*).
4. The Link to Heroin Use
Painkillers are the most abused prescription drug. Yet, many painkillers are opioids.
In national studies, almost half of young people injecting heroin started by abusing opioid painkillers. They moved to heroin once they could no longer afford the prescription medication. In 2014, 18.6 percent of youth reported using non-prescribed Rx painkillers, 8.5 percent of which used them within the last thirty days of the AYS.
While many reasons exist for Rx misuse and abuse, a distinct reason highlighted by the Mercy Maricopa Needs Assessment was self-medication. Based on the assessment, youth throughout the county self-medicate instead of using prescribed psychiatric medications.
A second reason is that parents do not believe in psychiatric medication, which drives the teens to seek alternative means.
2. Access and Places where Teen Abuse Rx Drugs
According to the WOW Buckeye Needs Assessment,* Rx drugs are abused both at home and at parties. They access these drugs from friends 68.8 percent of the time. They also get the drugs at parties 31.4 percent of the time from medicine cabinets at home 11.8 percent of the time (AYS survey).
These numbers are not mutually exclusive. A teen can attend a party and get Rx drugs from a friend, who raided his parents unlocked medicine cabinet.
1. How Can I Stop My Teen from Using?
The simplest answer to this question is, talk to them. Survey after survey confirms the biggest reason teenagers avoid substance use is parental disapproval. Sit down and talking to your teenager about drugs, including Rx misuse and abuse.
If you need help doing so, please visit the DrugFreeAZKids.org website. There, you’ll find many resources to help you engage your teenagers in a discussion on avoiding drug use and abuse.
Next week, we’ll look specifically at the consequences of Rx misuse and abuse.
*Please contact the WOW Coalition for access to these surveys.