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Missing Meds

by James Heller 26. October 2009 15:26
October 23 – 31, 2009 is National Red Ribbon Week.  The purpose is to bring awareness to teens and parents about the dangers of adolescent drug abuse.  A major effort this year will be made to reverse the trend of adolescent prescription drug abuse.

If parents aren’t taking steps to prevent teen prescription drug abuse in their households, they should be.  These drugs are becoming increasingly more available to adolescents, and perception of risk is low.  Along with educating our youth, parents need to know what to do to stem the tide of prescription medication availability.

When painkillers or benzodiazepines are prescribed, like Vicodin, Oxycontin, Xanax and Valium, the warning to “Keep out of the reach of children” is very clear.  But all too often these drugs are kept in the medicine cabinet next to the toothpaste.  This is often because the warning label is misunderstood as referring to only small children and not teens.

Parents will lock the liquor cabinet, but leave dangerous drugs in an easy-access place.  This not only validates teens’ perceptions of low risk, but can also increase supply to the illegal prescription drug market.  Very few parents count these medications to make sure none are missing at any given time.

Remember that most people who use these drugs will not abuse or addict to them.  They will only use a portion of the supply they were prescribed, then either dispose of the rest or leave them unattended where they sit.  Sadly again, very few know how to properly dispose of these leftovers.

The illegal prescription drug supply to dealers is largely driven by stolen medications.  Although a major supply of the drugs is stolen from suppliers and pharmacies, every little bit counts.  Taking steps in the home to reduce the supply, even by a small margin, could save many lives.  

The teen perception of low risk from abusing prescription drugs also comes in part from the seemingly casual attitudes of their parents.  So the practice of securing prescription drugs during use, and disposing of them properly, can do a lot to reverse the adolescent prescription drug abuse problem.

The US Food and Drug Administration have released guidelines for the disposal of prescription drugs.  An important portion about “flushing” them is below, and a link to the full article follows.  All parents who use prescription drugs should read this, and family and friends should pass it on to those who do.

-- Begin external content –

Despite the safety reasons for flushing drugs, some people are questioning the practice because of concerns about trace levels of drug residues found in surface water, such as rivers and lakes, and in some community drinking water supplies. However, the main way drug residues enter water systems is by people taking medications and then naturally passing them through their bodies, says Raanan Bloom, Ph.D., an Environmental Assessment Expert in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Most drugs are not completely absorbed or metabolized by the body, and enter the environment after passing through waste water treatment plants.”

A company that wants FDA to approve its drug must submit an application package to the agency. FDA requires, as part of the application package, an assessment of how the drug’s use would affect the environment. Some drug applications are excluded from the assessment requirement, says Bloom, based on previous agency actions.

“For those drugs for which environmental assessments have been required, there has been no indication of environmental effects due to flushing,” says Bloom. In addition, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, scientists to date have found no evidence of adverse human health effects from pharmaceutical residues in the environment.

-- Source: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/ucm107163.pdf --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides prescription drug detox as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare in youth alcohol and drug treatment.  If you or a loved one needs help for drug addiction or alcohol dependence, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

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