Parents and prescription drug abuse

What do parents need to know about prescription drug abuse? 1. Your kid may be using Rx drugs. 2. Taking someone else’s prescription drugs is illegals. 3. You can proactively help your kids. More on what parents need to know about prescription drugs here.

minute read

You may be thinking,  “My son is doing drugs – what should I do?”  You are not alone.  In fact, parents enable their children to use drugs in surprising ways.  And because the reason why kids do drugs is simple (they need self-love), parents set the tone for what is acceptable in the home and what cannot be tolerated.   So what do you need to know about prescription drugs in order to avoid this?

1. Teens abuse prescription drugs.

2. Taking someone else’s prescription drug is illegal.

3. Parents can proactively help your kids avoid getting into trouble with prescription drugs.

Here we examine how parents can take an active role in protecting kids from prescription drug abuse. Please feel free to leave us your questions and comments about prescription drugs at the end. We do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

Children and prescription drug abuse

One in three teens can access prescription drugs within 24 hours.  Did you know that prescription painkillers are the most rapidly increasing drug abuse among teens? In a 2009 survey, more than one third of teens said they can get prescription drugs to get high within a day; nearly one in five could get them within an hour. If teens are using prescription drugs, what can we as parents do about it?

How parents can help kids avoid prescription drug abuse

As parents we set the example and help to create the beliefs our children develop about drug use. It is our responsibility to teach our children and teens that using over-the-counter or prescription medications to get high or alter moods, is just as dangerous as illegal drugs. It is also against the law for an individual to use prescription medication without being properly prescribed.

While we can not control every outside influence, we can examine our own behavior to ensure that we are setting a good example. Always follow your physicians instructions when it comes to prescription medications and never share them. Only use over-the-counter medication for it’s intended purpose. Your kids and teens notice everything, and they will likely follow your lead if you are misusing medication.

You can also help overcome the power of peer pressure with effective parenting. It starts with knowledge. Don’t assume this rapidly growing problem won’t effect your children. Instead, assume that it will, and take steps to educate them. Communicate the dangers of drug use (including prescription and over-the-counter medications). Studies show that children whose parents play an active role in their lives, are less likely to use harmful substances.

However, when discussing this topic with your children make it a conversation rather than a lecturer. Don’t only talk, but listen to what your kids have to say about drug use. The more open the conversation, the more likely they are to be honest about what’s going on in their schools and with their friends. It is our job as parents to protect and educate our children, and prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse is far too dangerous to ignore.

Teen prescription drug abuse

Here are some additional tips to helping your kids avoid trouble that prescription drug abuse can cause.

1. Lock the medicine closet. Ensure that all medications in the household are properly locked away. Don’t kid yourself into thinking this isn’t necessary. If your own children don’t get curious, their friends might. Unless your medicine cabinet has a lock it is best to store medications somewhere else, such as a lockbox or safe.

2. Track prescriptions. Always keep track of the medications in your home. This goes for your children’s own medications as well. If you find that you have to refill a medication sooner than expected, this is a red flag that someone may be taking medication without your knowledge.

3. Track internet use. Monitor internet usage. Prescription drugs are not only widely available in many homes, but teens can also obtain prescription drugs through the internet. There are many websites that offer prescription drugs for sale (even without a prescription). Be aware of the sites your children visit and review credit card and bank account statements closely.

4. Inform others. Tell members of your family about your position on prescription drug use. Share this information with friends and family. Every adult in your children’s lives should be aware of this potential problem and take steps for prevention. Encourage them to safeguard their medications and track them closely.

About the author
Lisa Espich is the author of the multi award-winning book, Soaring Above Co-Addiction: Helping your loved one get clean, while creating the life of your dreams. For additional articles, resources, and a free preview chapter of Soaring Above Co-Addiction visit her website. Her book is available at bookstores everywhere and at Twin Feather Publishing.


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  1. I am 29 years old and can say that my first drug I had ever used was vicodin extra strength at 13 years old. I had an elderly grandfather who was in bad health who lived with us in our childhood home. He had all kinds of prescription medication which i would experiment with. I started stealing his medications (unbeknownst to him or my parents) and i eventually found oxycontin at 15 years old. I chased that drug for over a decade and had all the negative side effects and life issues that goes with drug abuse. I always justified my addiction because it was “safer” and legal than other “street Drugs” After my life with in total disaster at 28 i finally sought help for my addiction, i hvae my family back, have friends, have a job, and I’ve been clean and sober since June 5, 2012.

    Parents, family, friends, beware there are totally kids and other who are targeting your medicine cabinets on the brink of full addiction. Thank you for informing the public of this major health issue.

  2. Thanks for the heads up, Jake!

    Sneaky and tricky…that’s definitely present during prescription drug addiction.

  3. A warning you can switch an extra strength tylanol for vicodin. If they come in tablet form they can be switched for percocet.

  4. My experience is that the danger of having prescription drugs in the household is often overlooked by parents. I have seen many parents keep dangerous, habit forming drugs in their medicine cabinets without knowledge of the threat that they pose. Stashing an full, unused bottle of valium in the closet for later use is not the greatest idea. Unused drugs should be disposed of properly. Important prescription pills that are being used should be monitored and kept in a safe place such that no one can get to them. Drugs like oxycontin, vicodin, ambien, etc have the ability to be abused and if kept should be safeguarded in such a way that they will not be abused. If you suspect that a child is taking drugs without medical direction, seek help! My son was addicted to drugs but he is now clean and sober. His drug of choice was oxycontin. We got help from a sober living called New Life House. Check out their website if you are looking for help.

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