10 Tools to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

July 1, 2013
Raising Arizona Kids

Intentional misuse of prescription medications is the biggest teen substance abuse challenge today. According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Arizona Affiliate, one out of four 12th graders has used a prescription painkiller without a doctor’s prescription.

Even if your kids aren’t yet using, the chances are great they will be offered these and other substances.

How you can fight back:

Use your cell phone to stay in touch with your teens. Learn to communicate as they do, through texting. Create a secret phrase or code your teen can use if they need to call you for help to get out of a situation, but don’t want to say anything in the presence of friends.

Make a list of important phone numbers — your teen’s friends and their parents, coaches, school nurses, mentors, etc.

Create a network of responsible adults who know you, know your child and have the courage to speak up if they are concerned about your child’s safety.

Spend at least 15 minutes a day talking or playing with your teen.

Establish curfews.

Get rid of medications in your home that you no longer need. To correctly dispose of prescription drugs, the pills must be smashed and mixed in with some undesirable trash like coffee grinds or kitty litter. Do not flush the drugs down the toilet – it contaminates the water source.

Eat meals together. It provides an opportunity to stay connected and talk with your teens about important topics, or just about the day’s events.

Say “no” to large-scale sleepovers. Once kids become teenagers, this is no longer appropriate. A group will get into trouble much easier than one or two teens together.

Remember that spending time with your children and teens should be fun. Go to a movie, play a board game, go for a walk. Spending time with your teens will help strengthen your bond. Your children will respect you as a parent and role model, but they will appreciate and cherish your friendship as well.

Be patient. Teens may look grown up and act grown up, but their brains haven’t yet caught up. Brains aren’t fully mature until about age 24. There is some fascinating science on teen brain and substance abuse that can help you understand this time in a teen’s life.

Do you have questions about what certain drugs look like? Do you need help getting a conversation started with your teen? Visit PartnerUpAz.org for information and resources.

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