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Discussing Prescription Drug Overdose With Teens

Adolescent prescription drug abuse continues to climb.  Teens are now using painkillers at a rate that is second only to marijuana, as well as using sedatives like Valium and Xanax.  And the trend is being driven primarily by a perception among youth that prescription drugs are not dangerous.

Now is a good time for parents to have a very effective conversation with their children about the dangers of prescription drug overdose.  Although the jury is still out on the cause of death for Michael Jackson, there are news reports that he possessed a large amount of prescription drugs and used some of them.  Armed with some knowledge, families can possibly get positive results from a sad loss.

The conversation can begin by asking your teens how they feel about Michael Jackson’s death, and if they are aware of the possible prescription drug abuse involved.  You can then lead the discussion to how other teen idols, including some from your time and your parents, died as a result of prescription drug overdose.

You should name stars like Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith, and others.  Note that they were all popular like Michael Jackson at the time of their deaths, and had influence on large populations.  This will eliminate any sense that Jackson’s was an isolated incident.

Adolescents want to emulate pop idols, even when they exhibit negative behaviors.  Unfortunately, we hear about these behaviors often, and teens have a tendency to see them as normal and okay.  So the goal of this conversation is to inject the reality that prescription drug abuse is very risky.

Do not let the conversation end without driving home the point that prescription drug overdoses resulting in death are not so uncommon these days.  It is also important to remain calm and non-accusing throughout the conversation.  

If you need further assistance in talking to your teen about prescription drug abuse, or if there is already a problem, Tarzana Treatment Centers can help.  Please call us at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

The BHC Journal has posted an interview with Marvin D. Seppala, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Hazelden.  The excerpt below should encourage any parent to read the entire interview.

-- Begin external content --

Dr. Seppala, what would you like to tell other behavioral healthcare professionals and primary care providers about the state of this problem in our country right now?

Marvin Seppala: Well, it’s the fastest growing of the addictions. It’s really skyrocketing in regard to trends in addictions – and this is one that is really trending upward. It’s to the point where the prescribed opioids are now basically second to marijuana, if you think of them as an elicit substance. So if you exclude alcohol and tobacco addiction because they’re legal and say what’s illegal, because the abuse of these substances is illegal, then marijuana is first, and prescription opioids are second. And so there’s a huge problem occurring across the country. We’ve seen dramatic elevation of E.R. admissions for opioid-related problems, in particular overdose. There’s been a dramatic elevation in treatment center admissions for opioids. So it’s become a significant problem, even to the point that methadone (and not the liquid methadone for maintenance programs), the wafer methadone that’s prescribed by pain clinics, killed more people in Oregon last year than heroine. And that’s happened in a couple of other states, as well. So we’re seeing just a huge increase in the use of pain medications by the general population.

-- Source: http://www.bhcjournal.com/News/SpecialFeatures/tabid/252/Default.aspx?ArticleId=31647

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County and Orange County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley, and in Santa Ana.

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