Although teens are turning away from street drugs, now there's a new threat, and it's from the family medicine cabinet:
- The abuse of prescription (Rx) and;
- Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
This includes painkillers, such as those drugs prescribed after surgery; depressants, such as sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs; and stimulants, such as those prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Teens are also abusing cough and cold remedies because these drugs are readily available, and many teens believe they are a safe way to get high. Few parents are talking to them about it, even though teens report that parental disapproval is a powerful way to keep them away from drugs.
Have you noticed changes in your child's behavior? Does he or she have friends whom you suspect may be abusing prescription or OTC drugs? Whatever the reason -- don't ignore the issue. Signs that your teen might be abusing prescription and/or OTC drugs include constricted pupils, slurred speech or flushed skin. Parents should be alert to the following: personality changes, mood swings, irritability, excessive energy, sleepiness or avoiding sleep, sweating, loss of appetite, forgetfulness, or clumsiness. Watch for signs around the house such as missing pills, unfamiliar pills, or empty cough and cold medicine bottles or packages. If your teen has a prescription, keep control of the bottle. Be alert to your teen running out of pills quickly, losing pills or requesting refills. Other signs might include secretiveness, loss of interest in personal appearance, borrowing money or having extra cash, skipping classes, or not doing well in school.