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Prescription drug abuse rates are rapidly increasing in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it is responsible for the consumption of 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Abuse of prescription drugs occurs who the drug is taken in a manner other than its intended purpose such as to get high.

Prescription drug abuse can take over someone's life if help isn't found. It doesn’t have to be this way though. For those who are struggling with prescription drug abuse and addiction, help is only a phone call away.

05-26 Leftover prescription pills and risks of abuse by teens

Posted in addiction, Prescription drug abuse by Rachael - 0 Comments
Leftover prescription pills and risks of abuse by teens

Unrestricted access to leftover medications can trigger drug abuse among adolescents, with parents not even having the slightest idea that they are unconsciously opening a window for development of an addiction in their children.

Oblivious to the fact that leftover medicines can be a potential threat to teens, parents generally leave the medications unguarded. The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, conducted in 2016, reveals that about half of the parents surveyed kept the children’s leftover medication, like OxyContin or Percocet, given for illness or surgery, at their homes without any surveillance.

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health co-director Sarah Clark said, “This is a missed opportunity to prevent prescription drug misuse among children. Many parents simply keep extra pain pills in their home. Those leftover pills represent easy access to narcotics for teens and their friends.”

8% parents return leftover medicines to pharmacies

The researchers based their results on a national poll conducted among 1,200 parents who had at least one child aged 5-17 years. According to the survey, one-third parents said that their kids were receiving prescriptions pain medication, mostly for narcotic drugs such as oxycodone or hydrocodone.

Other findings of the survey were:

  1. 8 percent parents returned the leftover medicines to the pharmacy or to the doctor.
  2. 30 percent disposed of the medication either in trash or in toilet.
  3. 6 percent parents said the leftover medicines were reused by other family members.
  4. 9 percent could not even recall where the medicines were.

Only one-third of the respondents had a discussion with the doctor about what to do with the medications. Nearly 26 percent had the leftover pills at home even when the doctors spoke to the parents regarding the safe disposal of the surplus medicines. However, around 56 percent parents kept the extra pills at home when the doctors did not discuss anything about what to do with the excess pills.

The researchers said that the doctors should discuss about the safe disposal of leftover medicines with both the patient and the parents. Clark said, “Parents need to know that it’s okay to ask questions; providers need to check parent understanding of their role.” She added that prescription drug abuse in the United States has created a havoc and unsparingly affected teens and adolescents too. As a result, the parents should be made to understand the potential risk of abuse of such pain pills so that they can take adequate steps.

According to the survey, such a vigilance is necessary since pain medications prescribed to teens are frequently greater than the number of pills used. Moreover, parents generally do not get a guidance from the doctors and most of the time they tend to forget what happened to the leftover medications.

Reflecting on the need for proper prescription strategies, Clark said, “We need research to identify the prescribing situations that have a high likelihood of leftover narcotic medications, and develop tools to modify physician decisions about how much to prescribe, and test innovative methods to prompt parents to return leftover medications to the doctor or pharmacy.”

Innovative initiatives to dispose of prescription drugs

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, an effort supported by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), has been designed to promote safe disposal of leftover drugs. People dispose of excess medications at designated venues, instead of keeping them in their homes. This helps them get rid of potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs and save teens and adults from developing an addiction. According to the DEA, 350 tons of prescription drugs were deposited across the country at over 8,000 sites in 2015.

Such initiatives are necessary, but as a citizen, we should also take certain proactive actions to dispose of prescription medicines safely and keep them out of our children’s reach. If you or your child is battling prescription drug abuse, consult prescription drug abuse treatment centers in Colorado. The Colorado Prescription Abuse Helpline can help you find the best prescription drug abuse rehab in Colorado that provides customized treatment programs. Chat online or call our 24/7 helpline at 866-922-5915 for more information.