Any parent knows how terrifying it is to put their 16-year-old behind the wheel of a car. However, parents should be just as concerned about medicine abuse. Drug overdose has even surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in the US.
One in six teens admits to abusing prescription medicines to get high, and few teens consider taking medicines not prescribed to them to be a great risk. The truth is, the most powerful drugs are often right in your medicine cabinet. Drug overdoses take a life every 19 minutes in the US, and opioid pain relievers contribute to more overdose deaths than “street drugs” like cocaine or heroin.
Teens are not the only ones who need to understand the dangers of medicine abuse. According to new research from The Partnership at Drugfree.org, parents say they do not give their children medicines that were not prescribed for them, but teens tell a different story. Only 3% of parents admit giving their child a medication not prescribed for them, while one in five teens report that their parents have done exactly that.
Two-thirds of teens who abuse medicines say they get them from family and friends, and this kind of easy access is a problem. In fact, prescription medications are now the most commonly used drug by 12- and 13-year-olds.
The most important thing Americans can do to turn the tide against medicine abuse for the next generation is educate themselves. Take the Pledge to learn more and stop teen medicine abuse, and take control of your medicine by storing it securely.
Many prescriptions kept around the house are expired or unneeded. Participating in National Take-Back Day on Saturday, September 29 is a way to dispose of them properly. By taking these steps together, parents, educators and community leaders can join The Partnership at Drugfree.org in preventing half a million teens from abusing medicine in the next five years.
Hear Chelsea's story: Chelsea became addicted to prescription medicine, which lead her to living in a car and stealing jewelry for money to support her addiction. Today, Chelsea is grateful that her mother's tough love helped turn her life around.
Hear Ronnie's story: With a full football scholarship to Tennesse State and on the road to play pro, Ronnie became addicted to prescription medicine and overdosed before he and his family could see his dreams become a reality.