For Your Child

More Youths Abuse Painkillers

Talking with your child about drug abuse is important. It helps to keep him or her healthy. But did you know you should cover prescription painkillers in that chat? A new study points to why.

Researchers reviewed data from the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health. They found that young Americans are abusing prescribed painkillers more now than in the past. In fact, such drug abuse is 40 percent higher than in previous generations. The most common culprits? Vicodin and valium. They are now the second most frequently abused drugs after marijuana.

Close-up photo of 3 teens boys

Greater access one reason

One of the main reasons for this increase is ease of access. Many young people in the U.S. can easily find prescribed painkillers in their homes. For example, researchers found that prescriptions for hydrocodone and oxycodone jumped from 40 million in 1991 to 180 million in 2007.

"Most people know the dangers of leaving a loaded gun lying around the house," says study author Richard Miech, Ph.D., at the University of Colorado in Denver. "What few people realize is that far more people die as a result of unsecured prescription drugs."

Dangers of drug abuse

One statistic that should get parents talking is related to overdoses. Over nearly two decades, researchers found a threefold increase in deaths of people who take too much of a prescription painkiller. Dr. Miech adds that more people die today from accidental overdoses of such drugs than from too much cocaine and heroin combined.

Researchers also noted the following about prescribed painkillers:

  • Emergency department visits from these drugs increased by 129 percent between 2004 and 2009.

  • The number of people looking for addiction treatment for these types of drugs jumped by more than 500 percent from 1997 to 2007.

The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

CDC - Prescription Painkiller Overdoses in the U.S.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Prescription Drug Abuse

Partnership for a Drug-Free America

December 2012

Help Your Kids Stay Safe

Many parents worry that their children will try drugs or alcohol. But talking with and listening to your children can help them stay away from these dangers. You can start when your children are very young:

  • Listen to your children. Show them you are interested in them. Ask them about their worries. Let them know they can talk with you about anything.

  • Spend time together. Go to movies, play games, or read together. Show your children they don't need drugs to have fun.

  • Help them learn how to handle strong feelings. Teach them that drugs and alcohol don't solve problems.

  • Help your children practice ways to say no to people who want them to try drugs or alcohol.

  • Explain how drugs and alcohol can hurt them. Teach them to treat their body with respect.

  • Learn more about drugs and alcohol. You can even read about them with your children.

  • If it is hard for you to talk with your children, ask their doctor for ideas. A counselor or a member of the clergy may also be able to help.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

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