The American College of Emergency Physicians has issued a warning to parents regarding the dangers that accompany prescription drug abuse. Prescription drug abuse is a growing concern because they are now the second most abused drugs, right behind marijuana. Dr. Angela Gardner, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said that, "Often when you hear that someone has overdosed on drugs you think of illegal substances, such as cocaine or heroin. But parents need to know that many young people are taking prescription drugs from the medicine cabinets. Many of the kids wrongly believe the drugs are not addictive, and they don't realize they can be lethal". Dr. Gardner is absolutely correct, many people who come into contact with prescription medicine are not aware of what the drug is capable of; this naivety plays a huge part in the number of overdoses each year.
In 2006, nearly three-quarters of a million people (741,425) needed emergency care as a result of prescription drug abuse. The drugs abused the most are pain killers, opiates like Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin are the most commonly prescribed, but, they are many other pain killers that could be inside a parent's medicine cabinet. On top of pain killers, there are tranquilizers which are dangerous by themselves; mixing tranquilizers like Valium, Xanax, and Ativan with alcohol can be and often is a lethal combination. One could disagree with Dr. Gardner's statement that prescription drugs are only safe for the person they are prescribed for, only if they take the medicine as prescribed. Let's face it, you can take a medicine as prescribed and still wind up becoming dependent, it may take a little bit longer, but, sooner or later continued use will bring addiction. There are people who were prescribed morphine for 15 years, took the medicine as prescribed, and ended up having serious withdrawal symptoms when they stopped taking it. It doesn't matter how strong a narcotic is or whether you take the medicine as prescribed - narcotics are addictive.
Here are some warning signs that your child may be abusing prescription medications:
- Sudden changes in mood or personality
- Change in daily habits and appearance
- Usage increase
- Memory loss