As parents, relatives, teachers and concerned adults, we spend a lot of time helping teens circumvent the challenges that could ruin their lives. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is substance abuse. We talk to them about the hazards of underage alcohol use and the problems associated with abusing marijuana and other dangerous drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. According to national statistics, we’re making progress, with most illicit drug use going down over time.
A drug category that requires our attention is prescription medications. The fact is that one in five teens or 4.5 million young people have abused Rx drugs (National Council on Patient Information and Education). They are abusing these medications to get high, fall asleep, wake up and deal with stress.
Teens believe that because Rx medications are legal, they are safer than their illicit counterparts, making these medications the statistical drug of choice after marijuana. Prescription drugs are also easy to get. Fifty-six percent of people who use Rx medications non-medically say they obtain these drugs from friends and relatives (NSDUH 2008), meaning that these drugs are freely shared or taken from medicine cabinets or other accessible places.
How do we protect the rights of those who need these medications to relieve pain, while also preventing their abuse? We’ve got to sound the alarm to parents and adult caregivers that prescription drugs are a source of grave concern. Teens are abusing these drugs and some are even dying because of it. Adults need to lock up their meds, keep track of their medication quantities and learn how to properly dispose of unused medications. Be a part of the solution.
This last weekend the Van Buren County Sherriff’s Office in conjunction with the DEA and the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition held their 5th Drug Takeback event. This was held in Cantril at Township Hall. Over 13 lbs of prescription medication was collected and returned to the DEA for safe disposal. We want to thank everyone who took part in this event and were part of the solution to a growing problem in our nation and even our own backyard.