Who knew that fighting the war on drugs would begin in your own medicine cabinet.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly where we are today because it is too easy for prescribed prescription drugs to fall into our kid’s hands.
The statistics speak for themselves. All in all more than three million teens in the United States abuse prescription drugs. And the problem of drug use without a medical purpose among our youth is only growing worse: prescription drug abuse has risen in prevalence even as the abuse of illicit drugs has declined.
Abuse of prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs – the big difference is that kids tend to think they are safe and are easier to get. There is a direct link between perception of harm and use of a substance or drug.
Children don’t have to go to the streets or to a dealer to find prescription drugs; the biggest threat is an unsecured medicine cabinet in our own homes. Gaining access to its contents typically calls for nothing more difficult than sliding open a mirrored door.
Seventy percent of children who abuse prescription drugs admit to getting them from friends and family, often taken from the home medicine cabinet without that person’s knowledge. A recent study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) said that teens find it easier to get their hands on prescription drugs than it is to get their hands on beer. The long-term prognosis can be bleak. Kids who fool around with prescription drugs before age 16 face a higher risk of drug dependence later in life.
We can all do more to prevent prescription drug abuse. The first step is to become educated about the problem. The second step is to get the community involved by inviting all to join us in spreading the word.
That’s what the National Family Partnership (NFP) and Oregon Partnership strongly believe. As the country’s oldest and largest drug prevention program – and as the founder of Red Ribbon Week, which takes place every October 23-31 – the NFP has long dedicated itself to keeping children, families and communities drug-free. Together with Alpharma Pharmaceuticals, it has designated October 27 as “Lock Your Meds” Day, to raise awareness and provide parents with action steps to prevent children’s prescription drug abuse.
“Lock Your Meds Day” urges parents to take a five-part pledge, promising to: talk to your children about prescription drugs, set clear rules for behavior, lock up your medicines, take inventory and keep track of your medicines, and encourage others to follow the exact same guidelines.
To help parents, the campaign website www.nfp.org/lockyourmeds includes easy-to-use resources such as a home medicine inventory card, the online pledge, and downloadable guidelines on how to properly dispose of old and unused prescription medicines.