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Prescription for Trouble

Parent Tip Sheet


With the rise of abuse of prescription medications, it’s crucial for parents to recognize the physical and behavioral warning signs of potential drug problems. Physical signs include: lack of sleep or change in sleeping patterns; bloodshot eyes; inability to concentrate; loss of coordination; weight change; neglected appearance or hygiene; and change in speech patterns or ability to speak clearly. Behavioral signs include: mood changes; becoming easily irritated; extreme secrecy; lying; failure to fulfill responsibilities at home, at school or at work; loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities; coming home late; unusual smells on clothing or on the breath. Keep your eyes open as to the disappearance of any of the following: money from your wallet, medications from your cabinet, alcohol from your supply cabinet, or valuables from your collection areas. Most importantly, make sure your child does not “go missing” for extended periods of time.


Experts suggest the following tips:

  • 1.

    Learn everything you can about medications. Find out what kids in your area are abusing and don’t be reluctant to share that information with others in your community. Know what medications are in your own cabinet, how they should and should not be used, and what complications could occur if they were used inappropriately.

  • 2.

    Talk about it with your kids. What do your kids know about prescription and over-the- counter drug abuse in their schools? What do they know about the medications they take? Do they know the dangers of abusing those medications? Do they understand the importance of following a doctor’s instructions? Do they understand that abusing medications can be lethal?

  • 3.

    Set clear expectations. Your kids need to know your rules. They should never take medications without your knowledge. Ever.

  • 4.

    Start with your own medicine cabinet. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any medications you might already have at home and find out about their potential for abuse. Count your prescription and OTC medications. Know how many doses are in the container. If necessary, put them in a safer, more guarded place. If your child is taking a prescription medication to school, make sure you talk with the appropriate school personnel about the policy for medication distribution, and if possible, personally deliver the medications to the school nurse or office personnel. Be sure all unused medicines are returned.

RESOURCES Consumer Healthcare Products Association www.chpa-info.org

D.A.R.E. www.dare.com

Drug Enforcement Administration; National Drug Threat Assessment 2007 www.dea.gov

Kids Health www.kidshealth.org

The National Institute on Drug Abuse www.nida.nih.gov

OTC Safety www.otcsafety.org

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America™ www.drugfree.org

© 2007 CWK Network, Inc.

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