My daughter recently had all four of her wisdom teeth pulled and she was prescribed Oxycontin as her pain reliever. The pain was severe, and maybe over the counter pain medicine, such as Advil, would not have done enough to help with the post op pain. I controlled her pain medicine for the simple reason-I was not in pain. I could remember clearly when she had the last pill and when it was time for another. I also kept the bottle hidden in my bedroom and left a pill on her bedside table for emergency use only. As the pain decreased she was able to switch to using only Advil. Like so many parents I didn’t think about what to do with the pain medicine that was left over. My child was one of the lucky ones. I didn't give her more than she needed, and she didn't ask for it. But this is not the case with too many teens.
1 out of 4 teens abuse opioids or pain medicine. They take it to feel good and not because they are in pain. So it is important for parents to be aware of the potential for children and their friends to abuse their pain medicine.
See the following statistics from Partnership For Drug-Free Kids and start a conversation with your teenager about this important subject:
Prescription medicines are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12 to 13 year olds and that is why there is an even greater need to guard our medicine cabinets. Partnership For Drug-Free Kids has begun a movement called the Medicine Abuse Project to help parents learn what they can do to keep their kids safe. They encourage parents to take three simple steps to stop prescription medicine abuse from happening in their home:
- Monitor your prescription medicine. Be sure to also monitor your teen’s medicine and refills. Often pain medicine is sold or given to friends and if you are refilling your prescription more often than normal that may be a warning sign of abuse.
- Secure all medicine, including over the counter drugs, in a place unavailable to your teenager. Tell grandparents and parents of other teens to consider doing the same.
- Dispose of all expired or unused medicine when your teen is not home. Do not flush it down the toilet. It is recommended you dispose of all medicine by mixing it with an undesirable item, such as cat litter, and placing it in a can and then throwing it away. To help prevent illegal refills be sure to remove labels from prescription bottles. If unsure how to dispose of any medicine look for a medicine take back location near you.
While pain medicine serves a particular need its abuse among teenagers is a growing danger parents can help stop by becoming aware of the contents of their own medicine cabinets.
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by Nadine Knapp