Kids and Prescription Drugs (Pharming) Information and Prevention April 2009
Training Objectives • Define Pharming and identify ways teens are using prescription drugs to get high. • Recognize where kids are getting prescription drugs. • Identify the dangers associated with teens using prescription and Over-the-Counter (OTC) drugs.
Recognize the warning signs that a child or teen who is doing drugs exhibits. • Identify things parents can do if they suspect their child is doing drugs.
What is Pharming? • Children and teens using prescription drugs or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for recreational use. • Many teens are using these prescription and OTC drugs at parties to get high. • Pharming can have serious consequences, including death. • Kids as young as 12 are trying or using prescription drugs.
According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, medications can be abused in a number of ways. Some teens simply swallow the pills or drink liquids; others may crush the pills before snorting or smoking the powder. Others melt or dissolve the medications, and then inject them. Another popular way of abusing prescription drugs is to mix them with alcohol and street drugs into cocktails.
How Prevalent Is It? • In the annual tracking study, conducted by The Partnership for a Drug Free America, one in five teens has abused a prescription pain medication. • One in five report abusing prescription stimulants and tranquilizers. • One in 10 has abused cough medication.
Where Are Teens Getting Drugs? • According to parents: Teens can easily buy OTC cough and cold remedies at any supermarket, drugstore or convenience store, where these products are sold. They can also get them from home, or order them over the Internet. Even if kids do not order OTC drugs on-line, they can surf the web to find information and videos on what drugs to try and mix together.
What Are Kids Using? • The National Survey on Drug Use and Health identifies pain relievers, stimulants, sedatives and tranquilizers as being commonly abused. • Eleven percent of teens (aged 12-17) reported lifetime non-medical use of pain relievers and four percent reported lifetime non-medical use of stimulants.
Facts About Prescription Drugs • According to Kids Health, the most commonly used prescription drugs fall into three categories: • Opioids such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Demerol are used for pain, cough or diarrhea. • Central Nervous System Depressants such as Nembutal, Valium and Xanax are used to treat anxiety, panic attacks and sleeplessness.
Stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Strattera are used to treat narcolepsy, ADHD, depression, obesity and asthma. • Many kids don’t see the dangers of these medications, because they think if they are prescribed by a doctor, they are safe to use.
Dangers of Prescription Drugs • Abusing prescription drugs can have serious consequences. According to Kids Health, a single dose of an opioid can lower someone's breathing rate and even kill, when it's taken by the wrong person, in the wrong circumstances. The risk is higher when opioids are taken with other substances like alcohol, antihistamines and central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
Taking CNS depressants with other medications, such as prescription painkillers, some OTC cold and allergy medications, or alcohol can slow a person's heartbeat and breathing. This can lead to death. (Kids Health)
Alcohol and Medications • According to Parents,The Anti-Drug: mixing alcohol with certain medications can cause nausea and vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, fainting and loss of coordination. • Risks for users include internal bleeding, difficulty in breathing and heart problems.
Effects of Stimulants • Kids Health states the following effects of taking stimulants: • Heart failure or seizures. • Development of a dangerously high body temperature or an irregular heartbeat. • Taking several high doses over a short period of time may make a drug abuser aggressive or paranoid. • May be habit forming.
Effects of Over-The-Counter (OTC) Drugs • Dextromethorphan (DXM) can be found in cough medicines. High doses can cause problems with the senses (especially vision and hearing) and can lead to confusion, stomach pain, numbness and even hallucinations. Teens are using these OTC medications to get highs.
Warning Signs a Child Is Abusing Prescription/OTC Drugs • Unexplained disappearance of medicines from medicine cabinet. • Visits to pro-drug Internet sites devoted to teaching others how to get and abuse prescription and OTC drugs. • Declining grades; loss of interest in hobbies and usual activities.
Changes in physical appearance, hygiene, behavior and friends. • Disrupted eating or sleeping patterns. • Child has cough or cold, prescription, or other unidentifiable medications among their personal belongings although they have not been ill. (Partnership for a Drug-Free America)
Safeguarding Prescriptions • Due to the easy access of the family medicine cabinet, there are things parents can do to safeguard their children from taking prescription drugs to get high. • Parents should do an inventory of the contents of the medicine cabinet, kitchen cabinets, dressers, or anywhere else medicine may be stored.
If necessary, parents may have to monitor pill quantities and medicine levels in prescription and OTC drug containers. • Drugs should be put away. If an adult currently needs them, they should be put in a place where they can get to them, but not where their children can find them. • If there are drugs left over from a previous illness or injury, they should be disposed of.
Parents should urge their friends to perform medicine inventories of their own. This is especially true in the case of the parents of their children’s friends. (The Partnership for a Drug Free America)
What Else Can Parents Do? • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA), parents should learn about the abuse of prescription drugs and educate themselves on the dangers. • Parents should look for opportunities to talk to their kids about prescription drug abuse and other substance abuse issues.
In our society, there seems to be a pill to cure every illness. When parents see ads and television shows that suggest there is a pill for every ailment, they should discuss this with their kids. • It is important for parents to know the friends of their children and what they like to do, so they can be alerted to unusual hang outs or activities. Getting acquainted with the parents of their children’s friends is a good idea too, so there will be a network of adults who can be trusted to monitor the safety of the children at all times.
What To Do If A Teen Does Have a Drug Problem • According to The Partnership for a Drug Free America, teen drug abuse is tied to two different urges: • The desire to feel good by experimenting with drugs, while also trying to fit in. • Using drugs to help deal sources of stress, whether it is schoolwork, relationships, or conflicts with family or friends.
If a parents thinks their child is using, The Partnership for a Drug Free America lists these points parents should follow: • The power of love and family support is essential. There will need to be a frank discussion between parents and their child. • Parents should not make the discussion an attack. • If a child seems to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that is not the best time to talk to them.
Parents should wait for a calm moment, and then explain why they are worried about a certain behavior. Children should be given the opportunity to explain. Parents must really listen and not do all the talking. • It is important for parents to share their values and speak frankly. They should let their child know how dead set they are against drugs.
“I” messages are very important. It explains how a child’s drug use affects their parents and family. • If a child seems evasive or if their explanation is not convincing, parents need to consult their doctor or a professional substance abuse counselor to rule out illness and to ask for advice.
If there are emotional issues, parents may also want to take their child to a professional counselor. • Even if a child seems non-responsive or belligerent, if parents suspect drug use, they should get help immediately. • A health professional skilled in diagnosing adolescents with alcohol or drug problems can perform a thorough evaluation.
Parents may want to get involved in an intervention program to learn techniques that will help convince a teen drug user to accept help. • For drug abusers, there are self-help, outpatient, day care, residency and 24-hour hospitalization programs.
The right program depends on the circumstances and the degree of drug involvement. Professionals can help families make an informed decision. • Whatever the choice, if a program is to succeed, the family needs to be a part of it. Personal or family counseling may be needed. Joining a support group where families can learn about co-dependency and prevention of future drug use, may also be needed.
Family doctors, local hospitals, school counselors, or county mental health organizations can supply families with information about programs in their area. Parents can also call the national helpline at 800-662-HELP for advice or how to contact a local provider. • No matter what, parents need to remember that they can not give up. Their child is the same little boy or girl they raised, they are just way over their heads and they need their parents more than ever.
For More Information • Family Guide (SAMHSA), http://family.samhsa.gov/monitor/howpresdrug.aspx • Kids Health, http://kidshealth.org/teen/drug_alcohol/drugs/prescription_drug_abuse.html • Parents, The Anti-Drug, www.theantidrug.com • The Partnership For A Drug Free America, http://www.drugfree.org/#
Address: PO Box 208Jefferson City, MO 65102-0208 Telephone: (573) 751-5980(800) 487-1626(8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, Monday – Friday) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Missouri Department of Social Services State Technical Assistance Team