Prescription Drug abuse in teens increases in Humboldt
HUMBOLDT COUNTY- Now more than ever teenagers are turning to their parents medicine cabinet for a potential good time. Mike Goldsby, the Senior Program Manager with the Humboldt County Health and Human Services Public Health Branch said prescription drug abuse among young kids is a growing trend nationwide, and Humboldt County is no exception. Goldsby added, "When we talk about prescription medications, the largest we talk about are the pain killer drugs, so vicodin, and oxycontin.”
According to a recent study 20 percent of high school students in Humboldt County report that they have used prescription drugs for non-medicinal purposes, and about 5 percent report that they have actually used on school property. County health officials said that puts abuse of prescription drugs right behind alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. "The first thing parents can do is model appropriate behavior, take medication as it’s prescribed. The second is actually consider locking it up or keeping it in a very safe place,” added Goldsby.
Locking up your medications can also prevent children from ingesting certain pills that often get mistaken for candy. "It’s very important that parents pay attention to how they interact with their medication. For instance calling pills candy or taking a handful at once is not good behavior,” said Goldsby.
According to ‘Safe Kids Worldwide’ every 8 minutes a young child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning, and more than three-quarters of these ER visits are because children got into a parent's or grandparent's medicine. Goldsby added, "I know that a lot of older people get kind of a custom to having their prescription bottles laid out on their kitchen counter for instance or put in those small containers. And it's important that grandparents not do that."
To help prevent young people from accessing prescription drugs, county health officials advise parents to treat their medications like they would firearms. "I think everyone would agree that children shouldn't have access to alcohol and they shouldn’t have access to firearms or bullets because we acknowledge that those are potentially lethal. We would just like people to think about their prescriptions as being in the same categories as those,” said Goldsby.
If you have old medications lying around and would like to dispose of them, you can do so next month on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.