With the end of the school year, children look forward to a long break – and a lot of time at home alone. The National Family Partnership – and its Lock Your Meds campaign – warns parents that when teenagers are released from school for long break periods such as summer, the risk of substance abuse increases as children are unmonitored, experience boredom and restlessness.
Studies show that unmonitored teens are four times more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including substance abuse. During the summer months, when there is a decrease in supervision, middle school and high school students face more peer pressure situations that lead to first-time drug use. To make matters worse, the distressed employment market has made it harder for teens to find summer jobs, leading to less structured time, more restlessness, boredom and frustration.
A new survey shows teen abuse of prescription medicines continues at levels that should concern parents. Of the 2,500 high schoolers surveyed, 25% (one in four) admitted to abusing a prescription drug not prescribed to them. The new study showed marked increases in teen drug use, trending in the wrong direction (a reverse of decades-long declines).
“Summer is a risky time for teens,” says Peggy Sapp, president of National Family Partnership (NFP). “Most parents don’t really know what their kids are doing all day long during the summer. Surveys show that June, July and August are the most dangerous months for first-time drug use among children and teens. With prescription drug abuse on the rise among children, parents need to be aware of what medications are in the house, and safeguard these drugs to prevent abuse.”
Parents can learn more about preventing prescription drug abuse at home by downloading the MEDucation Kit from Lock Your Meds. This resource provides a good dose of knowledge about prescription drug abuse among adolescents. The comprehensive kit teaches parents lessons about the problems of abuse and the solutions available for families. Parents can download the MEDucation kit here: http://www.lockyourmeds.org/content/uploads/2010/09/12pgMEDKit6_25_102219.pdf
Recent studies show more cause for concern:
·Persons aged 12 years and older who admit to abusing prescription drugs in the past month exceeded the number of current users of cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine combined.
·Abuse of prescription drugs among teens was second only to marijuana abuse.
·Every day, more than 7,000 people 12 years and older initiate use of a controlled substance pharmaceutical drug for non-medical purposes.
·The number of emergency room visits involving the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals increased by 98.4 percent between 2004 and 2009.
·41 percent of teenagers mistakenly believe that prescription medications are “much safer” than illegal drugs.
·Teens continue to report that their parents do not talk to them about the risks of prescription drugs in the same manner as they discuss other substances of abuse.
·The medicine cabinet provides ready access to teenagers seeking to abuse medications: 51% of those surveyed believe that most teens get prescription drugs from their own family’s medicine cabinets.
·In 2010, 1 in 4 teens admitted to using a prescription drug not prescribed to them by a doctor at some point in their lives.