About 60-70% of teens say medicine cabinets at home are their source for drugs. Mary Barrios, healthy living coordinator at the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana, encourages parents to be more responsible with prescription medications in the home.
Barrios says the best way to combat prescription drug abuse is to dispose expired or unused medications. With National Prescription Take-Back Day around the corner, parents and professionals will be able to push-back against the opioid epidemic by leading by example.
On how prescription drug abuse is different than other drug abuse
Access. It’s in our medicine cabinet at home. About 60-70% of teens say that that is their source of drugs. It’s readily accessible to them, and we know that in the past pills have been over-prescribed. At one point, I heard that there were enough [over prescribed] pills for every American to have one bottle of pills – it’s just that much available. We know with opioids, they hit the same centers of your brain as heroin. For a lot of them – somebody who misuses or abuses – this medicine can lead to the potential of using heroin.
On how communities can combat prescription drug abuse
Most importantly, we have something called Prescription Take-Back Day on April 28th. What does that mean? Eliminate access. Get rid of the extra, expired, and unused medications that are in your home. If you do have some that you are using, make sure that they are put up in a safe place – not laying around where somebody can come around and take them. There are also some permanent drop-boxes in our community. You can go to the Children’s Coalition website and get a list if you’re not able to make it for that particular day.
On talking to adolescents and teens about prescription drugs
First, it’s understanding how important it is. Statistics say that children and teens who learn about the risks of drug abuse from their parents are up to 50% less likely to try drugs – parents are a vital part of deterring that behavior. Parents should also model the behavior they want to see in their kids.
On modelling healthy behavior towards prescription medications
Giving away prescriptions that you don't use anymore is what we call misuse. Taking prescriptions after a prescribed period is also a misuse. It’s not that you plan on abusing the drugs, but it is a misuse of the drug. Those are prescribed to you for a specific situation. Make sure that you’re only using drugs or medication that is prescribed to you in the way that it was prescribed to you. Teach your children to respect drugs and understand that they come with risks. Just because they’re in your medicine cabinet doesn’t mean they’re any safer than rugs that are on the street. If parents are looking for resources, generationRX.org is a great resource. They have everything from how to talk to your children about prescription medications all the way up to senior citizens.
Time to Talk is produced with the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana and <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.bayoulifemag.com/" href="http://www.bayoulifemag.com/" "="" target="_blank">BayouLife Magazine.