Monday, May 27, 2013
Drop boxes can stop drug abuse
Teens are finding drugs in places we would least expect it — right in their own homes.
Recreational use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications is a serious problem. Every day approximately 2,500 young adults ages 12 through 17 abuse a prescription drug, according to the Foundation For A Drug-Free World. Prescription drug abuse causes the largest percentage of deaths from drug overdoses.
Abuse of prescription drugs can be riskier than abuse of illicit drugs. Teens are abusing some prescription and over-the-counter medications to get high; this includes analgesics (pain killers), depressants (sleeping pills or anti-anxiety medications), stimulants (ritalin or dexedrine) and antidepressants (medications for depression). Teens are also abusing cough medicine and cold remedies. The high potency of prescription drugs creates a high overdose risk.
There are many serious health risks associated with taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Taking pain killers or depressants can cause memory impairment, poor judgment, paranoia, suicidal thoughts and breathing difficulty that can lead to death.
Abuse of stimulants can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia. Stimulants also can cause dangerously high body temperatures, an irregular heart beat and seizures.
Antidepressants can cause violent thoughts and actions, suicidal thoughts or suicide, irritability/agitation, irregular heartbeats and hallucinations. The use of over-the-counter drugs mixed with other drugs can cause respiratory failure and heart failure.
What can you do to help stop the use of recreational drugs? Talk to your teens about the dangers of abusing these drugs. Local law enforcement agencies have drug drop boxes to safely dispose of old, unused prescription medications. Drop boxes are available at police departments in Norwich, Montville, Groton City, Groton Town, Waterford, New London, Colchester and East Lyme.
Let’s protect our teens, and take the time to rid our medicine cabinets of these unused or expired medications.
Lisa Cook is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Cook or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org.