This New Year Let’s Help Keep Prescription Drugs Out of Teens Hands
Chief Edward Deveau
Laura Kurman, MA, LMFT Wayside Multi-Service Center
Dr. Jean Fitzgerald, Superintendant of Schools
Michael Dattoli, Chair, Watertown Youth Coalition
As we slide into the New Year, we begin the process of making and keeping all those New Year’s resolutions. In an effort to stick with the theme of starting fresh, the Watertown Youth Coalition (WYC), Wayside Multi-Center, and the Watertown Police and Public schools would like to remind all adults in the community of the importance of cleaning out their medicine cabinets. The rates of misusing prescription drugs have been increasing over the past ten years, while the perception of risk continues to decrease. Studies have found that the vast majority of teens abusing prescription drugs are getting them from the medicine cabinets of friends and in their own home. It is up to parents to monitor their cabinets and make sure that pills are not being removed and used without their knowledge.
In April 2012, the Watertown Youth Coalition administered the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to Watertown High (WHS) and Middle School (WMS) students. The survey is a tool to track health-risk behaviors of Watertown youth. The survey results show that 10% (55) students reported taking un-prescribed prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin in the past 30 days, while 8% (43) of students surveyed reported using un-prescribed stimulants such as Ritalin in the past 30 days. Even more alarming, 6.3% (48) students reported trying heroin at least once.
A 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that more than 2.1 million teens ages 12-17 reported abusing prescription drugs. Many teens are not aware of how dangerous misusing prescription drugs can be. It is important to note that when teens abuse prescription opioids (pain relievers) they are at an increased risk of abusing drugs like heroin. By monitoring the prescription drugs in your home and knowing how to properly dispose of unused quantities of medication, not only helps the environment, but it can also help protect your teen from drug addiction. It is up to all of us to help teens make healthy and positive decisions.
As a parent or guardian you can and do make a difference!
Here are some ways that you can protect your teen from prescription drug abuse:
1) Keep your prescription drugs in a secure place, away from your kids.
2) If your child has to take prescription drugs, keep control of the bottle. If medication must be taken during school hours, give them to the nurse.
3) Count and monitor pills to make sure no one else is using them.
4) If you’re hosting a party at your home make sure all medications are properly secured.
5) Talk with your teen about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
6) Consider your surroundings. Check all places in your home where you may have prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications.
7) Ask questions if you notice certain drugs are disappearing.
8) Dispose of unused quantities. Take them out of their original containers. Mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter and place them in a sealed container in the trash. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless the label instructs doing so.
9) Bring your unused medication to the Watertown Police Department , 552 Main Street, and put in the safe and secure drop box. Items accepted include: prescription and over the counter medications, narcotics, vitamins, medication samples, and veterinary medications.
The Watertown Youth Coalition is comprised of adults, youth, law enforcement, businesses, schools, health department, churches, and others who are committed to working together to promote healthy alternatives that replace substance use and to reduce underage use of alcohol and other drugs.
The WYC continues to focus on initiatives such as the I AM campaign which aims to help teens recognize a part of their identity that they feel good about sharing with others. The goal of the campaign is to emphasize positive behaviors and promote a strong sense-of-self in order to replace substance use and fuel passion and drive for more healthy activities.
Please help be part of the solution and do what you can to reduce teen access to prescription drugs. Please join the efforts of the Youth Coalition.
Visit us at www.watertownyouthcoalition.org, on Facebook, or contact us at 617-926-3600 x307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of the Watertown Youth Coalition, the Watertown Police and Schools, and Wayside Multi-Service Center, we wish you a happy New Year.