About children: What's in the medicine cabinet?

No peeking. Off the top of your head, what's in your medicine cabinet? BandAids, antibiotic cream, perfume (you're supposed to keep good perfume out of the sunlight), tweezers, antacids, aspirin or one of the aspirin substitutes, cough syrup and, probably, leftover prescriptions.

You know the prescriptions I mean. The pain killers you got when you took that fall last year. The anti-spasmodic drugs for your wrenched back. Those leftover drugs. You paid good money for them so you kept the leftovers in case you ever needed them again. Waste not, want not. Right?

Wrong! This past Tuesday I heard Jim Garrett from the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency talk about the drug problem not just in America, but right here in our county. Have you heard about drug overdoses of the rich and famous in New York and LA? Bad news, we have drug overdoses here in our small towns, too. Many of those who overdose are our children.

But, the kids around here just drink beer and smoke weed, right? Wrong again. Our kids are abusing prescription drugs more than any other type of drug. Marijuana use comes in third. Behind heroin.

Every day in the United States, 2,500 children, ages 12-17, abuse a pain reliever for the first time. In many cases they keep on abusing those drugs.

Worried about your kids using illegal drugs they got on a street corner? You may be worrying in the wrong place. Youth abuse prescription drugs more than any illegal drug except marijuana. Indeed, prescription drugs are the drug of choice for most 12- to 13 year-old drug abusers.

Where are the prescription drugs that our kids use and abuse coming from? Remember, I asked you what was in your medicine cabinet.

The sources are: 56 percent got them for free from a friend or relative, 9 percent bought them from a friend or relative, 5 percent took them from a friend or relative without asking and 4 percent bought them from a drug dealer. Another 19 percent got them legally from a doctor, but did not use them as directed and abused them.

When you add the 56 percent plus the 9 percent plus the 5 percent you get a total of 70 percent obtained their un-prescribed (for them) prescription drugs from a friend or relative. Your main problem may not be your drug dealer on the street. Your problem may be much closer to home. It may be as close as your own medicine cabinet.

Safeguard all drugs -- both prescription and over-the-counter. Store them in a locked container. Monitor quantities and control access. This can be as simple as counting the pills and comparing it to the number of days. Make a note of the start and finish days for the prescriptions. With liquids, mark on the bottle the contents after every use. Make sure pills and liquids don't get "used up" too soon.

With friends and family your children spend time with, ask them to safeguard their drugs. I know on the counter may seem easier, but please control all medications.

Talk to your children about using prescription drugs only as directed. Explain the dangers of misuse. Be a good example. Don't let them see you "borrow" a pain pill from a relative or friend.

Dispose of all unused or out of date medicine properly. DO NOT flush them down the toilet or put them in the trash. Drugs disposed of in this fashion end up in the water supply by entering the earth and going into the water table. Dispose of prescriptions in one of the drop boxes at your local law enforcement office. They will then be incinerated.

To learn more about prescription drug abuse, go to www.TheAntiDrug.com or call 1-800-788-2800. To contact Medway, go to medwaydea@earthlink.net. If you suspect illegal drug activity in your neighborhood, call the Turn In A Pusher Hotline at 330-262-0360 or 1-866-860-9513.

Bev Theil is a child advocate in Wayne and Holmes counties. She can be contacted at aboutchildrennow@aol.com.


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