Parents beware: prescription drug abuse rising

Prescription drug abuse is rising and a group representing ER doctors is warning parents to better track their medications and be on the lookout for signs of problems in their children.

Citing data from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians stated that ER visits due to accidental prescription drug overdoses were up 37 percent from 1999 to 741,425 in 2006. And the college said that prescription drug abuse is now the second only to marijuana.

“Parents need to know that many young people are taking prescription drugs from the medicine cabinets,” said Angela Gardner, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Many of the kids wrongly believe the drugs are not addictive, and they don’t realize they can be lethal.”

Here are some safety recommendations from the group:

  • Keep prescription drugs in a safe place that only you can access.
  • Keep inventory of all medications, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs. This includes keeping accurate counts of your pills.
  • Never take a prescription drug that is not intended for you and you only.

And some warning signs for parents:

  • Sudden changes in mood or personality — Does your child get irritable, abusive or negative? 
  • Defensiveness — When trying to hide a drug dependency, an abuser can become very defensive, paranoid, and secretive. They might react to simple requests by lashing out. 
  • Change in daily habits and appearance — Is someone you know neglecting their hygiene for example? It’s a sign of drug abuse. 
  • Memory loss — Does your child forget events that have taken place or act clumsy?