Teens and Medicine Cabinet Safety

Monday, November 23, 2015

Are your teens getting their fix from the medicine cabinet?


Remember when all you had to worry about was your kids getting into the cookie jar? Unfortunately as they grow, kids find more serious things to get into – like the medicine cabinet.

There is a growing and worrisome trend among tweens and teens raiding their parents’ medicine cabinet looking for drugs. You may unknowingly be supplying your child or friends of your child or even your babysitter with drugs just by filling your prescriptions.

You may not believe that your child is stealing prescription drugs from your bathroom, and you may be right. But studies show that one in five kids abuse prescription drugs, some of them as young as 12 or 13.





Trying to get through

The teenage years can be a frightening, challenging period of self-doubt, peer pressure and experimentation. Teens raid the family medicine chest looking for ways to help them get through those difficult times - to boost energy or focus, to deal with stress, to lose weight or to bulk up, and of course to feed an addiction. Any prescription medication, even over-the-counter cough medicines, can become addictive.

The top five types of drugs that kids take are:

  • Narcotic pain relievers
  • Stimulants such as Ritalin
  • Sedatives/tranquilizers
  • Sleep Aids
  • Cough medicines

Young people believe that getting their fix from drugs at home is safer than getting them off the street. After all, their parents are taking them. Prescription drugs are also legal and doctor-prescribed and more easily accessible.

What to do

If you’re noticing that your prescriptions don’t last as long as they are supposed to, or they simply go missing, you need to take some necessary steps to confirm your suspicions.

  • Talk to your doctor about the potential consequences of your child taking your prescription drugs so you fully understand the risks.
  • Always count your tablets and capsules when you first bring them home. Keep track of how many are left after you take them.
  • If the numbers are not adding up, you need to confront those who live in the house with you.
  • Chances are even if your teen is stealing your medications, he or she will not admit to it. Watch for signs of drug abuse such as behavioural changes, hanging out with the wrong kids, and falling marks in school.
  • Talk to you teen about drug abuse, or if the situation calls for it, find professional help for your child.
  • Warn your elderly relatives (grandparents, uncles, aunts) to keep tabs on their prescription drugs when your kids are visiting.
  • Don’t put your prescription medications in the medicine cabinet. Find another place to store them that isn’t so obvious. You might even consider a lock box.
  • When your prescriptions have expired or are no longer needed, don't flush them down the toilet. Instead, dispose of them in a responsible manner by taking them back to to your local pharmacy.

Unfortunately prescription drugs that are created to be lifesavers for many can potentially be killers for others. Even if you don’t believe that your child could be raiding your medicine cabinet, put your mind at ease by keeping a watchful eye on your medications and keeping the lines of communication open.

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