Prescription Drug Abuse
Most individuals keep prescription medications in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Oftentimes, they take the medication as long as they need it, and save the rest of the meds for a time in the future when their symptoms flare up. Or they save the medications for a friend or family member who may have the same symptoms and could benefit from them.
This trend has led to a great epidemic among teenagers – the abuse of prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that every day an average of 2,000 teenagers use prescription drugs without a physician’s guidance. In fact, following alcohol, marijuana and tobacco, prescription drugs are next in line to be abused by teens. Many teenagers believe that prescription drugs are less dangerous than illegal drugs because they are legal and prescribed by a physician. But the prescription is only intended for the individual whose name is on the label.
According to NIDA, the most commonly abused prescription drugs are pain relievers (e.g. Vicodin, OxyContin), central nervous system depressants (e.g. Xanax, Valium) and stimulants (e.g. Adderall). In addition to their medicine cabinets, these medications are readily available for purchase over the Internet. Teenagers take the medications by themselves to gain a desired effect, or they take a handful of the drugs to “pharm” parties.
Pharm (pharmaceutical) parties involve each guest bringing different prescription drugs to a party and mixing them all together, creating a trail mix of prescription drugs. This poses such a great danger since the teens have no idea what drugs they are actually ingesting.
Because of this danger, it is critical that all current prescription medication is stored safely. Individuals must also properly dispose of any unused medications and not save them for later. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CVDAPC, Glendale Police, the Elks, L.A. Sheriff’s Dept., GCC Police, and the DEA will be at CVS Montrose, Rite Aid La Crescenta & La Cañada, GCC (Verdugo Road and Circle Drive) and the sheriff’s station at 4554 Briggs Ave. to collect and dispose of all unused prescriptions. By removing all unused prescription medication from the home, temptation to abuse these drugs is also removed.
Suzy Jacobs is the executive director of the Crescenta Valley Drug & Alcohol Prevention Coalition. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.