Studies show that an increasing number of teens start using drugs during the summer months – while unsupervised and with more free time. In fact, when teenagers are released from school for long break periods such as summer, the risk of substance abuse increases, according to a new informational campaign called Lock Your Meds sponsored by the non-profit National Family Partnership.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists prescription drug abuse as the fastest-growing drug problem among 12- to -17-year-olds. One in four high school students in the U.S. admits to having taken a prescription drug without a prescription. Emergency room visits for prescription drug abuse have more than doubled since 2004, according to the campaign, and 48 percent of all ER visits for prescription drug abuse are by young people ages 12 to 20. Prescription drugs are now involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine, combined.
Lock Your Meds is the new national campaign from the to inform families that they are frequently the “unintentional suppliers” of prescription medications being abused by young people. The National Family Partnership is the largest and oldest drug-prevention group in the United States, and in 1988 developed “Red Ribbon Week” into the annual campaign that now reaches more than 80 million people each year, mobilizing parents, schools and communities. As the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention group, NFP is committed to keeping families informed. Consider the following statistics:
- 70 percent of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them from family and friends.
- 68 percent of households do not properly secure their prescription medications.
- Studies show that unmonitored kids are four times more likely to engage in substance abuse.
- The distressed employment market makes it harder for teens to find summer jobs, leading to more boredom, restlessness and free time.
- A new study surveyed 2,500 high schoolers and reported that one in four admitted to abusing prescription drugs.
Tips for parents
- Safeguard all medicines by monitoring quantities and controlling access.
- Remove drugs from your medicine cabinet and lock them up.
- Warn your youngsters that prescription drugs can be just as dangerous, addictive, and lethal as street drugs. Studies show that teens dangerously view prescription drugs as “safer” to abuse than illicit drugs.
- Properly dispose of old or expired medicines in the trash.
- Hide or mix them with cat litter or coffee grounds before throwing them away.
Don’t have kids at home? What about your grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and your friends’ kids who visit your house?
Learn more about preventing prescription drug abuse at home this summer by downloading the MEDucation tips for parents. This resource provides a good dose of knowledge about prescription drug abuse among adolescents, and teaches parents about the solutions available for families.