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An alarming trend

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DrugFreeAz.org is working to reach out and educate 15,000 youth by 2014 in the hopes of preventing prescription medicine abuse. Pediatricians are also dedicated to raising healthy and drug-free children, and we urge parents to join us and follow these steps to protect your kids. Here are the steps you can take to put an “L-I-D-D” on this issue:

Prescription

Lock it up 

To ensure that your teen doesn’t experiment with prescription or over-the-counter medications that are in your home, lock the medicine cabinet or keep medications in a secure place.

Inventory

Many teens do not understand the dangers associated with prescription drug abuse. Unlike illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine, teens often feel prescription drugs are safer because they are legal and prescribed by a doctor. What they don’t know is that prescription drugs are just as dangerous, addictive and deadly as any of those illegal drugs. By not monitoring medication in the home, parents risk their teen abusing medication. Be a proactive parent and take routine inventory of all prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Discuss

Drug abuse of any kind is a parent’s worst nightmare. To help avoid potential drug abuse, communication is essential. It is imperative that parents discuss the dangers of abusing prescriptions with their teen. DrugFreeAZ.org offers helpful ways to start conversations with teens. The more open the conversation, the more likely they are to be honest about their activities or concerns and any curiosity they might have about painkillers, prescriptions and other drugs. And, starting early in building awareness with your child can help as well – don’t wait until peer pressure can’t be overcome.

Disposal

When old or expired prescriptions and medicine are not being used, it is important to dispose of them appropriately. Instead of disposing medications at home in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, parents should place them in a plastic bag that can be sealed, crush them, then mix with coffee grounds or kitty litter. Only then is it safe to throw in the trash. You can also take prescriptions to drop-off locations around your community for safe disposal. (See Sidebar) 

Together, we can help our teens live healthy, productive lives.  

Arturo Gonzalez, M.D., FAAP, graduated from Medical School at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara. He was chief resident in St. Vincent’s/NYU residency program in New York. Dr. Gonzalez has held several leadership positions within the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AzAAP) for the past 20 years. His current position is Immediate Past-President of the AzAAP. At the national level, he’s been involved with the AAP’s special interest group on immigration. He’s been in private practice for 20 years with Scottsdale Children’s Group.

Resources:

The Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

You’ll find a comprehensive list of resources including on substance abuse at: azaap.org/arizona_pediatric_resources

Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Arizona Affiliate

For related tips, information, and a video on disposal of medicine, visit drugfreeaz.org/Rx. There will also be information about the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day set for Saturday, April 27.

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