Unused or expired prescription drugs are a public safety issue leading to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse. Unused prescription drugs thrown in the trash can be retrieved and used or sold. Medication flushed can contaminate the water supply. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office holds drug take back days with the DEA 2 times per year (April and September) in several locations. When there is not a drug take back event happening you should dispose of unused or expired medications by taking the following steps:
- Take them out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. The medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash.
- Put them in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.
- Before throwing out a medicine container, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information
You have a direct impact on the access to prescription drugs and can take immediate steps to protect their children from the dangers by following a few simple tips.
- Safeguard all drugs at home. Monitor quantities and control access. Ask friends and family to do the same.
- Set clear rules for teens about all drug use, including “Don’t share medicine.” and “Always follow the medical provider’s advice and dosages.”
- Properly dispose of old or unneeded medicines.
Nearly half of all prescription drug misuse occurs right in the home when a person takes a prescription medication that is not prescribed for him/her or takes it for reasons or in dosages other than prescribed. Source: NYS OASAS
What do parents need to know?
As a parent of a teenager, you may have spoken to your child about illegal drugs and their harmful effects. But did you know that legally prescribed medicines are also a cause of concern?
Today more than before, an alarming number of teenagers are more likely to have abused prescription and over the-counter (OTC) drugs than illegal drugs like ecstasy, cocaine, crack, and methamphetamines.
The hidden dangers of prescription medicine abuse include dependence, slower brain activity, irregular heartbeats, dangerously high body temperature, heart failure, slowed respiration or lethal seizures. Prescription drug abuse increases emergency room visits and suicide attempts, with nearly 500,000 emergency room visits for abuse of prescription or OTC drugs in 2004.
The easiest way for teens to obtain prescription medicines is from their friends or their parents’ medicine cabinet. It’s so common that it could happen even in your house!
- Nearly one in five teens (19 percent, or 4.5 million people) report abusing prescription medications to get high.
- Two in five teens (40 percent, or 9.4 million people) believe that prescription medicines, even if they are not prescribed by a doctor, are “much safer” to use than illegal drugs.
- Teens are misusing everything from pain relievers like OxyContin® and Vicodin® to stimulants, sedatives, and tranquilizers like Valium®. Teens also commonly misuse ADHD medications like Adderall® and Ritalin®.
Watch this 11 minute video from Parents 360 Rx: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SeqZs4tURI&feature=youtu.be It tells reals stories of the dangers of medicine abuse and how to prevent it.
From: Parents. The Anti-Drug.
What are the dangers?
There are serious health risks related to abuse of prescription drugs. A single large dose of prescription or over-the-counter painkillers or depressants can cause breathing difficulty that can lead to death. Stimulant abuse can lead to hostility or paranoia, or the potential for heart system failure or fatal seizures. Even in small doses, depressants and painkillers have subtle effects on motor skills, judgment, and ability to learn.
The abuse of OTC cough and cold remedies can cause blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, coma, and even death. Many teens report mixing prescription drugs, OTC drugs, and alcohol. Using these drugs in combination can cause respiratory failure and death.
Prescription and OTC drug abuse is addictive. Between 1995 and 2005, treatment admissions for prescription painkillers increased more than 300 percent.4
Effects of Prescription and OTC Drug Abuse
When taken properly and under a medical provider’s supervision, prescription drugs can have many benefits. Unfortunately, many teens are abusing these drugs to get high or for other effects. Teens say they are abusing prescription and OTC drugs because they are easy to get and they think they are a safe way to get high. Why should parents care about this?
REASON #1: More teens abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug, except marijuana.1
Many young people wrongly believe that prescription and OTC drugs are safe to abuse, when in fact they can be just as risky as street drugs, if taken improperly.
REASON #2: Prescription and OTC drugs are easily accessible.
The vast majority of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends and relatives. In fact, more than half of teens who abuse prescription painkillers say they get them from friends or relatives, for free.2 Prescription and OTC drugs are easy to get at home, at a grandparent’s house, and even at school. The Internet can also supply teens with prescription or OTC drugs. There are hundreds of Web sites that illegally sell drugs without a prescription. There are also many Web sites that teach teens which drugs to use to get high, how much to take, or how to mix drugs for certain effects. Teens can then venture out to the local grocery or drugstore to buy cough and cold medications, and put the dangerous new information they’ve learned online to use – risking significant health consequences. Find out more about where teens get prescription and OTC drugs and learn how to limit your teen’s access to these drugs.
REASON #3: Many teens believe it is safe to abuse prescription and OTC drugs.
About half of teens do not see great risk in abusing prescription drugs, and one-third of teens believe there is nothing wrong with using prescription drugs occasionally for non-medical reasons.3 Teens don’t understand that when abused, prescription and OTC drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs.
REASON #4: Abuse of prescription drugs can be dangerous, even fatal.
Abusing prescription drugs like painkillers, depressants, or stimulants, can have tragic consequences, from serious injury to death. These are powerful drugs that can have unpredictable effects when abused. Teens often take prescription drugs with street drugs or alcohol, which only adds to the dangers, like breathing problems, seizures, or heart failure.
REASON #5: Prescription drug abuse can limit your teen’s potential.
Prescription and OTC drug abuse can ruin promising lives. Many of these drugs are addicting. Teens who first abuse prescription drugs before age 16 also have a greater risk of drug dependence or abuse later in life.4 Abuse of these drugs can interfere with your teen’s ability to learn and succeed in school. Prescription drug abuse is also illegal and can have serious consequences.
Where Teens Find Prescription Drugs
Friends and the family medicine cabinet are the major sources of these drugs. More than seventy percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers say they get them from family or friends.1 Others may abuse their own prescription medicine. Teens also report that these drugs are not hard to find. About 40 percent of 12th graders say that painkillers are fairly or very easy to get, and more than half say the same of stimulants.2 Where should you look to make sure prescription drugs are not readily available?
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At Home: A teen may scout his own home first if he’s looking to get high from prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
With Friends: Talk with the parents in other households your teen has access to about safeguarding medications
With Relatives: Grandparents may be another source of prescription drugs for teens. In fact, 10 percent of teens say they took drugs from friends or relatives without asking.3
Take the tour to learn about all of the danger zones and common places for teens to get prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as specific advice on how to protect them from this type of abuse.