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PSI Prescription Drug Abuse Brochure Information

The New Face of Drug Abuse

Despite recent reductions in teen drug use, increasing numbers of teens are using prescribed and over-the-counter medications to get high.

Most parents are unaware of the dangers related to this type of drug abuse. Tragically, many teens disregard the dangers of using these medications recklessly.

Specific instructions for use accompany all prescription and over-the-counter drugs. When a person chooses to ignore these instructions, they can face severe medical consequences. Misuse can lead to death.

Teens obtain these drugs in a variety of places -- from friends at school, medicine cabinets, pharmacies, nursing homes, the Internet and sometimes, on the streets from drug traffickers dealing pharmaceuticals.

Street Drugs Vs. Pharmaceuticals

The term "street drugs" refers to illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana and others. Many teens mistakenly believe that pharmaceuticals (prescription drugs) are safer than street drugs.

Street drugs and legitimate medications often have the same addictive properties. It is important to remember that people can react to drugs differently. Even drugs that are considered to have a low abuse potential can be addictive and possibly fatal to some users. These drugs can include examples like dextromethorphan (DXM), which is found in cough syrup and other commonplace over-the-counter medicines.

Parents and teens need to understand that when over-the-counter and prescribed medications are misused, they are every bit as dangerous as street drugs.

Teens and college-aged students use pharmaceuticals like Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin, Ritalin, Adderall, Xanax, Valium, and Nebutal for a variety of reasons. Some "use" to escape boredom, to preserve friendships, to deal with competitive academic opportunities and classes, or to obtain the "ideal" physical appearance.

Teens and young adults don't always recognize the risks, so it's important for parents to warn teens about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Metabolisms and brain chemistries differ; therefore, similar drugs can have different effects on individuals. Experimenting with medicine to get high is extremely dangerous. Mixing drugs to get high can be deadly.

The Danger of Abusing

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drug abuse can result in physical and psychological dependence. Dependence means that the body adjusts to the drugÕs effects and canÕt function normally without it. When drugs are used in a manner that is inconsistent with the medical or social patterns of a culture, it is called drug abuse. Addiction is defined as compulsive drug-seeking behavior where acquiring and using a drug becomes the most important activity in a user's life.

Teens and adults who abuse prescription medication are at risk for becoming dependent.

What Can You Do?

Parents and other concerned adults play an important role in protecting our youth. You can protect your children and grandchildren from the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

1. Keep your prescription drugs out of the hands of teens and children.
Know what is in your medicine cabinet. Keep powerful medications in a safe place. Locked cabinets are best. Count your pills when you receive them and periodically check how many are in your container.

2. Ask your teens what they are experiencing
At school, at friends' homes and at parties. Share with them what you have learned about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.

3. Dispose of your prescription drugs when they are no longer needed.
Federal guidelines recommend ways to do this. Take unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers and throw them in the trash. For safer disposal, mix prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. Then place them in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags to further ensure the drugs are not used incorrectly.

If you or your teen is aware of someone distributing prescription drugs or selling them on a suspicious Internet pharmacy site, call the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hotline. Callers will be able to make confidential reports by dialing toll free

1-877-RxAbuse (1-877-792-2873).

For more information about prescription abuse and prevention, visit the Drug Enforcement Administration's website at www.dea.gov or GetSmartAboutDrugs.com

To locate your local Poison Control Center, or to receive assistance with drug identification, visit www.poisonprevention.org/emergency.htm or call 800-222-1222. This number is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Local resources

If you suspect that your teen or college-aged child is abusing prescription drugs, help is available. Personal Solutions Inc. offers resources to Bedford County community members who need help finding successful treatment for substance abuse.

You can speak with a case manager by contacting the Personal Solutions Inc. office.

Personal Solutions Inc.
145 Clark Building Road, Suite 5
Bedford, PA 15522
(814) 623-5009www.personalsolutionsinc.org