Parents, picture this…
Its Friday night. You are sitting at home watching TV in your quiet house in your quiet neighborhood. Suddenly, you hear multiple sirens flood your neighborhood, whisking pass your home and down the street to the neighbor’s house. The flashing strobe of red and blue lights intrude your windows through your curtains. As a concerned neighbor, you grab your robe and houseshoes, proceeding to step outside to see what all the commotion is about. You walk outside to see a slew of teenagers and some adults standing around the house that the firetrucks, EMTs, and police cars are gathered around. Standing in your yard, your heart begins to race as you become more concerned, for the scene looks serious. As the EMTs proceed to carry a lifeless looking body into their vehicle to be transported to the hospital, simultaneously you see one of the teens that are speaking with the police point in your direction. As the policeman approaches you, your stomach drops to your feet, the world around you goes silent, and your body goes numb as you proceed to listen to the officer tell you your teenager has overdosed and is being taken to the local hospital. Your heart shatters and tears flood your face…
“Pill parties” are real. There have been instances where teens bring a variety of prescription (Rx) drugs found in their homes to house parties to create a large cocktail of drugs for others and all to try as a means of “getting high”. Sharing Rx drugs, especially in instances such as this, is morbidly dangerous because prescription opioids are potent and highly addictive. For teens and their underdeveloped bodies and brains, this can quickly lead to addiction and/or even provide a gateway to other hard drugs like cocaine and heroin if use is not closely supervised by a physician or parent. Safety disposal of expired or unused Rx drug medication helps to prevent opioid addiction and Rx drug misuse. By removing access to the problem from the home in this way keeps these drugs out of the hands of our youth. Additionally, educating other parents and youth about the potential for Rx drug misuse and its dangers brings awareness to the issue before its too late until the next teen suffers from an overdose that could have been prevented.
As parents, relatives, neighbors, and friends, we must do our part in protecting our loved ones from the risk of opioid Rx drug misuse and opioid addiction. We can do this by:
- Teaching our teens about the dangers of sharing medications and taking any medication (over the counter or prescription) that do not belong to them and is not supervised by a parent or physician
- Having open conversations with our teens about what they think about sharing medication and if they have been offered medication from their peers
- If a doctor ever tries to prescribe an opioid/painkiller medication, consider the option of alternative drugs, if possible
- If you or someone in your home does have to take an opioid Rx medication, be sure the medication is securely locked up in a safe place away from minors or anyone that is not prescribed that medication
Check out some of the resources below regarding Rx drug misuse/opioid addiction prevention!