It’s a frightening reality that every parent needs to face – the problem of drug use is prevalent in our society. Drugs of all kinds – street drugs, prescription drugs, over the counter medications, and inhalants – are more available to your children than ever before. It doesn’t matter if you live in an affluent suburb of a large city, a small town, a rough inner-city neighborhood, or a rural area. Your children are almost inevitably going to be exposed to drugs multiple times during their youth and adolescence.
Drugs in the Home
The first place many children and teens are exposed to drugs is right in the home. Granted, you may never have allowed street drugs such as marijuana or cocaine in your home, but what about prescription drugs or over the counter (OTC) medications? Pharmaceuticals is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it continues to grow each year. As the population continues to grow and more and more drugs are being developed, new drugs hit the market constantly.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with taking prescription or OTC drugs for appropriate health reasons – and as prescribed or recommended by your doctor – don’t be naïve to the fact that more and more adolescents today are experimenting with and abusing prescription drugs as well as many OTC drugs. Make sure you keep all prescription medications, as well as any OTC medications that might be abused (e.g., cough syrup), locked in a safe place.
Drugs at School
The problem of drugs in schools is continuing to grow. A recent national survey found that nearly 25 percent of teens in public schools indicated that their schools have both drugs and gang activity. Nearly one third of middle school students reported that drug activity (sales, use, or possession) took place at their school.
More teens than ever before are abusing prescription drugs. In fact, recent statistics indicate one out of every 5 high school students have abused them at some point in time. According to a report by the Bureau of Justice in 2005, nearly 30% of students have been given, sold, or offered some type of illicit drug right there on school grounds. And the statistics aren’t getting any better. Most students report that they know where to get drugs like marijuana and amphetamines if they wanted them.
Prescription drug abuse is becoming more popular as these drugs are considered safer and more socially acceptable than street drugs. A recent trend is the “Pharm party.” “Pharm” stands for pharmaceuticals. “Pharming” refers to raiding the family medicine cabinet. It’s essentially a prescription drug swap meet. At these parties everyone brings whatever prescription drugs they can get their hands on, such as Xanax, Oxycontin, Ritalin, Zoloft, and Vicodin.
These parties are especially dangerous because those who attend often combine medications into what they call a “trail mix.” The mix is put into baggies or bowls for everyone there to sample. Unfortunately, mixing prescription drugs in this way is extremely dangerous. Many drugs have dangerous interactions when combined.
The drugs at these parties come primarily from their parents’ medicine cabinets or purchases made from online drug companies that sell prescription drugs – without the requisite prescription from one’s doctor.
Drugs in the Community
Drugs in the community are available in many different places. Besides the traditional drug dealers, teens are exposed to and have access to drugs from other sources as well. Health clubs are a popular place for drugs, especially anabolic steroids. These drugs are popular with competitive athletes and bodybuilders, as they help to build muscle mass and boost athletic performance. But they can also have very serious physical and psychological side effects.
Many popular drugs are available at the local grocery store and in the cupboards and garages of most homes. Inhalants, which are popular amongst teens, include everyday items such as cooking spray, paint thinner, glue for model airplanes, and gasoline.
Over the counter drugs like cough syrup are abused by many teens. These are also easy to get either at home or at the local drug or grocery store. Some OTC medications that have a high potential for abuse are kept behind the counter to help reduce this problem.
With the rapid growth of the internet, teens can also purchase many drugs online – or at least find out through chat rooms or other sites where to go to get whatever drugs they desire.