Monday, August 13, 2012

Teen Angst & the Pharmacy

Prescription drug availability is a real problem.  We keep our drugs on the counter, in the kitchen cupboard, on the dresser, on the night stand, in the medicine chest....  This may be quite a temptation to someone in your household, especially teens.  (Those people that are between childhood and adulthood are going through incredible physical, mental, and emotional change and turmoil.) Would you notice if a few of your pills were missing?  Maybe there are old prescriptions you've saved that you're not using anymore.  Do you know how many pills are in the bottle?  Is there a prescription that you only use when you're in pain and not on a regular basis?  Do you know how many pills are in that bottle?

I think I told you how old I am in the first post, but in case you've forgotten, I'm 54--still.  And since I am a dinosaur, I feel comfortable (well, almost) telling you about my teen years which were a very long time ago, but memorably less than stellar.

I used to be incredibly depressed as a teen.  There are things about my teen years that I don't fully understand even now, but somehow cutting myself with a razor on my wrists put me in control of all the pain.  I was in my mid-teens, maybe around 14 or 15.  School was difficult, relationships at school were difficult, there was peer pressure to have a boyfriend and have sex, and there were abundant drugs available.  Smoking pot during the school lunch hour was very common, and it was out in the open.  Pregnancy looked like a contagious disease, and the adults were not responsive to a request for sex education.  I can still think of at least 10 girls who were pregnant during my tenure at high school in northern New Hampshire.  It was a relatively small school.  I think there were about 60 kids in my graduating class, so the percentage of pregnant girls seems very high to me--and those were the ones I knew about. 

All the cool kids would go to the high school dances across the river in Vermont.  And by "cool," I guess I mean the ones whose parents were clueless or had raised their kids to be more responsible than I was.  My parents were clueless.  I was not a bad kid, I was unhappy, and I wanted to feel better.  I don't remember kids using prescription meds then.  We were more into the over-the-counter meds like No-Doze for an upper and liquid cough medicine for the alcohol.   How stupid, you say?  Well, yes, this is the point.  But we didn't care!  Pop some over-the-counter pills?  Sure, why not.  Life is so boring/confusing/traumatic, why the hell not? At the Vermont dances, there was a lot of activity in the restrooms and the parking lots getting high. 

My parents let me go to the dances because my best friends' father would take us and pick us up.  What my parents didn't know and I never told them is that Mr. X was usually a bit wasted himself with alcohol.  It seemed like everyone was trashed, so why would it feel like a problem?

I'm telling you some of the gory details of my youth to make a point.  And I hope that you, reader, will consider your past and the confusion you may have experienced in growing up.  The teenage years are tough!  They can be really tough.  I'm not a parent, so I can't preach at anyone about parenting, but there seems to be a huge problem about kids and drugs.  I'm not even talking about the illegally produced street drugs, but the ones in your medicine chest. 

So conjure up your teenage angst to help you relate to the following.

Pharm Parties

My nephew being a great sport to pose.
How about some trail mix?  No, not that kind!  OK, how about some Skittles?  The recipe for either is to steal prescription drugs from someone's medicine cabinet (easiest to get your parents' drugs -- they won't notice), then go to a pharm party where all the other kids have done the same thing, take the drugs out of their labeled containers and dump them into a bowl and mix.  Now, grab a handful and wash them down with an alcoholic beverage.  Adderall, Xanax, OxyContin, Vicodin, morphine, whatever....  Trashed, baby, trashed.  Just not the painful normal. 

Oh my gosh, now imagine you're the ER doctor who gets one of these kids who is unconscious and foaming at the mouth.  If you knew what the kid had taken for a drug, maybe you'd know what to do.  But you have no idea--it was a "pharm party" with any prescription drugs they could get hold of.  What do you do?  Damn!  Or maybe you're lucky, and it was a kid who was more savvy about which drugs gave her the high she was looking for and you can find out what she had access to at home or school.  Have a look at this clip from The Drs.

While there has been a marked decrease in the use of some illegal drugs like cocaine, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.  Check out this ABC News Report video from 2010 on pharming and prescription drug addiction in teens.

And This is My Problem How?

If you live alone and no one has access to your home and therefore your prescriptions, maybe you're just fine.  But if you live with others, in particular those people who are going through hormonal changes, are moody, think you're stupid, and are just generally not having fun, not really, then you should be locking up your medicines and keeping track of how many pills you have.  Yeah, you locked them up, but teenagers are tenacious about getting what they want.  Do you remember?  I remember.  Make sure you do a really thorough job of locking them up.  You don't leave a loaded gun lying around.  Don't leave your drugs lying around either. 

And yeah, you should talk to them about this.  I wish someone had talked to me, but I think I scared my parents so badly that they just watched my downward spiral from afar wishing they knew what to do and just hoping it would pass.  

Dispose of Unwanted, Unused, or Expired Medicines

If you have prescriptions that you no longer need or that have expired, dispose of them properly so they're not a temptation.  First, find out if there is an unwanted medicines take back program in your area.  There have been a few national take-back events in the last couple years.  Have a look at the Federal Office of Diversion Control web site to see if your town is participating.  The next collection is on September 29, 2012 from 10 am to 2 pm.  Who knows how many more collections will be provided if any.  The feds are trying to figure out a more efficient method of collecting unwanted medicines so we'll see.  Also contact your local pharmacy, your town office, your police department, your regional planning commission, or your solid waste management district to see if they have information about a collection.  Check out Dispose My Meds on-line to see if there is a pharmacy near you that has a meds take back program.

Do not throw meds down the drain or down the toilet.  Those drugs end up in our drinking water!

If there is no collection, mix liquid meds with something dry and throw it in the trash.  It's recommended that meds be combined with something disgusting like used kitty litter so no one will want to pull it out of the trash.  I don't have the mind-set of a drug addict, but I've read this so many times, I have to assume there is valid purpose to doing this.

"What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?"
Plato, 4th Century BC

Hmm...Guess it is biological.  Have pity.

No comments:

Post a Comment