Prescription drug abuse continues to be on the rise, especially among teenagers. Click to hear KMZU’s Kristie Cross speak with Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant Brent Berhardt:
Bernhardt said, while illegal drugs are still a concern, parents should also be aware of the medication in their homes. “Many times we think of the common drugs that kids might get their hands on, such as marijuana, methamphetamine, herion, or other similiar drugs,” said Brenhardt, “In a lot of situations, we’re finding that kids are getting hooked on prescription medication. There are a lot of cases where prescription medication has been found in their homes and has been prescribed to someone else like a family member or even a friend.”
According to officials, drugs that induce sleep and pain killers are most often abused. Bernhardt said there are a few warning signs, as well as preventative steps for parents. “Obviously anytime there is a change in behavior, attitudes, or friends parents need to be aware,” said Bernhardt, “As parents and adults we need to make sure that these types of drugs, or anything else that could be harmful for our kids, can’t get into their hands by making sure they’re securely put away.”
The patrol recommends keeping only a small amount of prescription medicine easily accessible and storing the remainder in a location where children or guests would be unlikely to find them.
Anyone needed help with a drug problem is encouraged to visit a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in their area or contact the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Behavioral Health at 800-575-7480.
EMPHASIS: Safeguard Prescription Medication To Prevent Theft and Abuse
Most parents share a common concern about preventing their children from becoming involved in illegal drug use. When they think about “drugs,” the substances that typically come to mind are: marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy, etc. Parents hope to keep their children out of situations where they would have access to these substances.
Yet, people seldom consider substances that are available in their home. Prescription drug abuse is a significant problem in all areas of the country and is responsible for deaths and emergency medical treatment every day. The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute on Drug Abuse both identify the most commonly abused medications as opioids, benzodiazepines, and amphetamine-like drugs. Opioids are generally prescribed to treat pain. Some examples are hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, and codeine. Opioids are the most dangerous of the three, with a 300% increase in overdose cases since 1999. Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants generally prescribed to induce sleep, prevent seizures, and relieve anxiety. Some examples are alprazolam, diazepam, lorazepam. Amphetamine-like drugs are central nervous system stimulants generally prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.
These medications are legitimately prescribed for individuals with medical conditions that require their use. Frequently, individuals who legitimately possess these medications do not realize their high potential for abuse, and fail to consider that they are in high demand by persons who would abuse them or sell them for significant profit on the black market.
Leaving any prescription medication, especially those with high potential for abuse, in an area where they are easily accessed is an invitation for theft or diversion. Consider taking steps to safeguard these medications and dispose of them when they are no longer needed. Safeguarding medications can be as simple as storing them in a place where a guest or visitor is unlikely to expect to find them, and being attentive to the quantity on hand. Often, prescription medication belonging to a friend or family member is diverted in small quantities over a long period of time to avoid detection and ensure a continuing supply. A solution to this problem may be keeping small, easy to manage, quantities at hand for anticipated use over a period of a week, and keeping the remaining quantity stored in a place with limited access.
If you, or a loved one, need help with a drug problem, consider visiting a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in your area or call the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Behavioral Health, at (800) 575-7480.