“Pharming”, or the abuse of prescription drugs, is on the rise amongst 12 to 17-year-olds.
When asked which was easier to buy, beer, marijuana or pharmaceutical drugs, the number of teens and pre-teens who said that prescription drugs were the easiest has climbed to 19 percent, according to a new study by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. (By the way, 34 percent of the kids asked obtained those drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets. The most popular drugs: Vicodin and Oxycontin.) I asked my pediatrician about this trend. “Lock up your medicine,” he warned. “Even if your child doesn’t ‘pharm’, his friends might. It’s becoming pretty commonplace for kids to walk into their friends’ houses and rifle through the cabinets for drugs, prescription or otherwise. Then they take them in various combinations just to see what will happen.” (He warned that abuse of OTC drugs, ie Robotripping, is also very common.)
The danger, according to experts, is that kids don’t see prescription drugs as being dangerous or even addictive.
The Columbia study also found a correlation between kids whose parents didn’t know they were out on school nights and substance abuse. (Half the kids said they were out, but only 14 percent of parents asked actually knew it.) One recommendation by the Center on Addiction and Substance abuse: sit down and eat together. 23 percent of Kids who only ate dinner with their family three times a week or less had tried marijuana. Kids who ate dinner with their families 5 times a week or more were much less likely to try any kind of drug.
Food for thought!
How do you talk to your child about prescription drugs? And have you ever had any reason to believe they or their friends were abusing OTC or pharmaceuticals?
About Elisabeth Wilkins
Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.