This is an epidemic. The number of accidental drug overdose deaths (over 40,000) now exceeds that of automobile fatalities, with as much as 60% attributed to prescription drugs. I’m giving you the highlights, along with links to some sites that can provide more detailed information.
Please don’t take the attitude of “not my kid.” You just never know, and we’re often surprised by who the victims are. The ease with which our children can obtain these drugs, and their relatively blasé attitude about using them should be taken seriously. Even if your child doesn’t use, he or she knows others who do. I guarantee it. I don’t like to use scare tactics, but you must pay attention, for the sake of ALL the children. You need to look out for all of them.
ARE YOU YOUR KID’S SUPPLIER?
When you have surgery or are injured, the doctor readily prescribes painkillers, as many as 30 to start with. Forget for the moment that it’s way more than most people need, and you use few, if any, of the pills. It used to be that you put the bottle in your medicine chest and forgot about it. Months or years later you noticed it, and found all the pills still inside the bottle.
Not so anymore. Your medicine chest is a goldmine for anyone looking for a quick, free fix, and teens and young adults are taking more than their share.
Let’s take a look at some numbers:
– The number of accidental drug overdose deaths (over 40,000) now exceeds that of automobile fatalities, with as much as 60% attributed to prescription drugs.
– There is one death every 20 minutes due to drug overdose.
– Prescription opiates are the conduit to heroin, which is cheap and highly addictive.
– One in six (1/6) teens use prescription drugs to get high.
– The United States prescribes/uses 80% of the world’s supply of medical opiates.
– Every day, about 2,000 teens use prescription drugs for the first time, without a doctor’s supervision.
But those are just numbers. Here’s what you really need to know:
This generation suffers from boredom, entitlement, and the mistaken belief that they must always be happy. When they are without purpose, overindulged, and feeling uncomfortable emotions, there is a general acceptance that it’s okay to use drugs and alcohol to feel something, or to numb the unpleasant feelings. It used to be a big deal to get drunk or high. Now, it’s just something to do. They live in a culture where it’s fun, and another activity to stave off boredom. Using these drugs goes way beyond their original purpose of pain relief.
Too many teens (and adults) mistakenly believe that abusing prescription drugs is safer than illegal drugs. Not so. That’s why prescription drugs are taken under a doctor’s direction. They can have dangerous short- and long-term consequences, not to mention the dangers of mixing them with other drugs and alcohol.
The stereotype of the junkie – poor, homeless, shooting up in an alley – is over. Today’s addict is more likely to be middle- or upper middle-class, living in the suburbs and luxury high-rise as well as the inner city. They include high-functioning executives, moms and dads. Too many of them are our children, or children we know.
What are the most common Rx drugs they are taking, or rather stealing? What are their street names?
Oxycodone/Oxycontin, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Fentanyl
(Hillbilly heroin, oxy, OC, perc, happy pills, vikes)
Central Nervous System Depressants (CNS)
Barbiturates – Mebaral, Nembutal
(barbs, reds, red birds, phennies, tooies, yellows, yellow jackets)
Benzodiazepines – Valium, Xanax, Halcion, Ativan
(candy, downers, sleeping pills, tranks)
Sleep Medications – Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta
(A-minus, zombie pills)
Concerta, Adderall, Dexedrine, Ritalin
(Skippy, smart drug, Vitamin R, bennies, black beauties, roses, hearts, speed, uppers)
Where do teens get their prescription drugs?
In a 2012 Monitoring the Future survey, 50% of high school seniors said that it is very easy to get opioid drugs other than heroin (e.g. Oxycontin). Most get them from their own home, friends and relatives. Every medicine cabinet or night table is a potential source of free drugs.
Your babysitter may be going through your meds. Your kids may be looking in Grandma’s bathroom. (Who would have thought that Grandma has a ‘stash’?) Older teens and young adults are showing up at open houses and taking meds from the bathroom.
Kids will empty out medicine cabinets in preparation for a “pharming party.” When they get together at someone’s house, they dump all the pills into a bowl and choose them like brightly-colored M&Ms.
Commonly abused drugs, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and other sources you’ve never thought of.
Slide show to help you identify the pills.
The most addictive prescription drugs on the market.
Top 8 reasons why teens try alcohol and drugs.
Teen pitfall: stress can lead to depression, drug use.