Many of us grew up with a strong awareness of how to prevent forest fires because of Smokey the Bear. We also had a healthy fear of poisoning thanks to Mr. Yuck. Preventative police officers taught generations to “Just Say No” to illegal drugs. But who is the role model for children when it comes to behaviors involving prescription drugs? The answer is clear – you.
Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic affecting more than six million people. What’s more, one in four Indiana teens has admitted to abusing prescription drugs.
You, as a parent, must ask yourself what behaviors you are teaching your child and what they will model as they grow up. In addition to taking the nature of prescription drug abuse seriously, we also must focus on proper disposal. Keeping old medication around for future use may occasionally be a way to save a few dollars. However, it may cost you far more in the long run.
More than 70 percent of first-time abusers get the drugs from a friend or relative, including the home medicine cabinet.
Just because the outside of the bottle has a safety cap does not make it safe to keep around kids. Drug seekers, experimenting teens and curious children can all make it into the medicine cabinet when you least expect it. A scary thing to remember is that drug addicts often use open houses for home sales as an excuse to raid peoples’ medicine cabinets, and teens often know they can sell their parents’ prescription drugs to their peers. This is happening in real life and you cannot turn a blind eye.
In a recent survey from the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, local college students admitted they misused painkillers, anti-anxiety/depressants and stimulants. All of these drugs are prescription drugs, and they can have very dangerous or even deadly consequences if used incorrectly. Misuse is abuse regardless of if the drugs were acquired legally or illegally. Properly disposing of prescription drugs could save a life.
Never forget you are the role model your child will remember the most. It is a simple fact. If medications are disposed of when treatment ends, we stand a much better chance of preventing these dangerous behaviors from happening in the first place. Understanding the importance of PROPER disposal also means making sure, these pills do not become a part of our water supply by flushing them down the toilet.
Old prescription drugs should be returned to a prescription drug drop-off site, where they can be disposed of safely. To find a drop-off site near you, visit www.in.gov/bitterpill/safe_storage.html