August 2016

Teenagers and Prescription Drugs

Parents are usually diligent about talking to their kids about drugs and alcohol. However, when they think of drugs, most tend to focus on marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other well-known street drugs. Often overlooked are the drugs sitting in their own medicine cabinets.

Prescription drug abuse among teens is a national health crisis. A survey launched by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, in conjunction with the MetLife Foundation, “showed that 24 percent of high school students — more than 5 million kids — have abused these medications.” Many have done so before their 14th birthdays. It also showed that 56 percent of these drugs were found right at home. Friends are also a common source of different types of drugs. Kids who are on Ritalin and Adderall will sometimes share these drugs with school mates who do not suffer from ADHD.

There also seems to be a misconception among not only teens but their parents as well that prescription drugs are somewhat safer than street drugs. After all, they were dispensed by a doctor. However, any drugs taken that are not used to treat a particular symptom or prescribed for a particular individual whose weight and tolerance are taken into account can lead to dangerous consequences.

Therefore, it is important to keep track of all medications and keep them in a safe place. Some pain killers, like Oxycontin, contain opioids, which can mimic the effects of heroin. Taking these can cause low blood pressure and a slow breathing rate, and in some cases, can actually suppress breathing. Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives such as Xanax and Valium can also cause these symptoms along with memory problems. Overdoses often lead to coma and death. Stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall, can cause heart problems, dangerously high body temperatures, high blood pressure, as well as seizures and hallucinations if not taken as directed.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your teenage son or daughter (or any person), call 911 to obtain medical help immediately. There are medications such as Narcan that can reverse the effects of narcotics, and possibly save his or her life. This is why it is crucial to get help as soon as possible.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed. Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green. We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.

In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge. Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you. scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com or call (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies.

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