Did you know that studies show that more teens start using drugs during the summer months than during the rest of the year? The combination of extra free time, boredom, easy access, and lack of supervision greatly increases the risk of prescription drug abuse for kids.
A new study from the Lock Your Meds campaign surveyed 2,500 high schoolers and found that one in four admitted to abusing prescription drugs. Their dealers? Quite often, these kids were getting their drugs directly from the family medicine cabinet, making parents inadvertent drug dealers to their own kids and possibly other kids as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists prescription drug abuse as the fastest-growing drug problem among 12- to 17-year-olds. The number of teens going into treatment for addiction to prescription drugs has increased by more than 300 percent. And prescription drugs are now involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
So what can you do to avoid becoming a drug dealer for your kids, or their friends, this summer? Here are some tips from the Lock Your Meds campaign to help keep your teens and your family safe:
- Safeguard all medicines by monitoring quantities and controlling access. Remove drugs from your medicine cabinet and lock them up.
- Warn your kids that prescription drugs can be just as dangerous, addictive and lethal as street drugs. Studies show that teens view prescription drugs as "safer" to abuse than illicit drugs — and that's a dangerous view.
- Properly dispose of old or expired medicines in the trash. Hide or mix them with cat litter or coffee grounds before throwing them away.