5 Things Family Members Can do To Stop Prescription Abuse
Prescription drugs have become a deeply entrenched part of American life. According to a 2013 study reported by the Mayo Clinic, 70% of Americans now use prescription drugs, and many take more than one type of medication to treat various types of physical, mental or emotional problems. While many of these medications are intended for treatment of conditions such as arthritis or high cholesterol, the most commonly prescribed drugs are used for conditions ranging from chronic pain to anxiety, insomnia or depression. Such drugs are commonly found to have a high potential for abuse, and some are also notoriously addictive, such as the painkillers hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin/Percocet). Prescription drug abuse has risen to the level where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes it as an epidemic, and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is leading several other federal and state agencies in raising the red flag about the issue. What can you do to help prevent or stop prescription drug abuse among your family members? Here are five tips:
Make Sure They Take the Recommended Dose
If a family member has been prescribed painkillers or some other medication, take the time now to ensure that everyone involved knows exactly how much is the recommended dose, and then make sure that your loved one is taking no more than this amount. This is especially important when painkillers are involved. A patient will often take an extra pill here or there to get extra relief, or might begin to develop a tolerance to the medication, only to develop a dependence that rapidly escalates into a full-blown addiction.
Help Them Understand the Risks
As soon as possible after a family member begins taking prescription drugs, or preferably before, sit down to discuss the risks associated with the drug. What are the side effects? How addictive is it? Decide whether or not the purported benefits of using the drug are worth the chance of getting hooked.
Don’t Make Pills Easy to Find
If you or your spouse are taking prescription medication that has potential for abuse, don’t leave your pills lying around. Ideally, you should keep them hidden or even locked away. This is true even if you’re certain that you can trust everyone else in the family; friends of your teenagers or others might take advantage of the opportunity to get an easy high.
Turn in Unused Pills
If you have leftover pills in your medicine cabinet, don’t leave them there. Take advantage of prescription drug drop-off events which are typically held annually, or in some areas more than once per year, by local police departments or sheriff’s departments. Many law enforcement agencies also have secure drop boxes. This is better than simply throwing them in the trash, because you can be assured that the drugs will be properly disposed of.
Make It Easy to Ask for Help
One of the most important things you can do is to make sure that a family member who is taking prescription drugs knows that he or she can come to you for help. While you should certainly make it clear that nonmedical use of the drug is not acceptable, you should at the same time ensure that he or she feels safe admitting to you that there is a problem. With this type of safety and security, it is more likely that your loved one will indeed reach out should it become necessary, rather than trying to keep it a secret only to let the problem spiral out of control.