Prescription Drug Poison & Abuse

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Partnership for a Drug Free America and Parents, the Anti-Drug are offering the following safety information regarding prescription drug poisoning and abuse.

Accidental Poisoning

More than one million children each year, ages 5 and under are accidentally poisoned, 90% of those poisonings happen at home. Due to their faster metabolic rate and size children are less able to physically handle toxic chemicals than adults. Of all accidental poisonings combined, 40% were from prescription drugs and other medications. To avoid accidental poisoning keep all medications out of reach of small children. Properly dispose of all outdated or unwanted medications.

Prescription Drug Abuse

More and more teens are turning away from street drugs and using prescription drugs to get high. New users of prescription drugs have caught up with new users of marijuana. There are many reasons why prescription drug abuse among teens occurs. These drugs are typically readily available, with easy access in most homes. Many teens think prescription drugs and over the counter medications are safe because they have a legitimate use, but taking them without a prescription to get high or “self-medicate” can be dangerous and addictive as using street narcotics and other illicit drugs.

Fast Statistics

One in five teens has abused prescription pain medication, stimulants and tranquilizers. One in ten teens has abused cough medication. Each day, 2,500 youth ages 12-17 abuse a pain reliever for the first time. Pain relievers are the most common pharmaceuticals abused among younger teens. Stimulant abuse is more common among older teens and college students.

Abuse Prevention

Decrease the potential risks by keeping all prescription medications out of teens reach, instead of keeping them in a family medicine cabinet. Monitor quantities of remaining pills or liquids and keep track of refills. Properly dispose of all outdated or unwanted medications.

Talk to your child about the dangers of taking prescription drugs without the supervision of a doctor. Inform them that abusing pain medication is like abusing heroin because their ingredients (both are opioids) are very similar. Although starting a conversation with your teen can be difficult it can open doors for both of you and strengthen your relationship.

Responding to Abuse

Look for warning signs that your child maybe abusing any type of medication or drug. Some signs to look for are constricted pupils, slurred speech or flushed skin. You should also be alert to any personality changes such as, mood swings, irritability, excessive energy, sleepiness, trouble sleeping, sweating, and loss of appetite, forgetfulness or clumsiness. Other signs may include loss of interest in school or hobbies, skipping classes and loss of interest in personal appearance.

Disposing of Medications

Properly dispose of all outdated or unwanted medications. Never flush medications down the toilet or drains. For a copy of Federal guidelines regarding the proper dispose of prescription drugs visit our website