The entire America has been battling the epidemic of prescription drug abuse, which kills more people than heroin and cocaine combined. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) says that there are more than 6 million people in the U.S. who abuse prescription drugs.

Ironically, most of the abuses start from home. So, it becomes imperative to determine how individuals procure these prescriptions to get medicines from the chemist. Almost 70 percent people who abuse prescription drugs manage to get the prescriptions dubiously from friends, relatives and stealthily looking up the medicine cabinet at home.

It is better to nip the problem in the bud rather than ending up at a prescription abuse treatment center for detoxification.

Parents, especially of teenage kids at home, should exercise caution and be more vigilant to prevent abuse of prescriptions. According to a 2013 national poll on children’s health, almost 19 percent parents are paranoid about the misuse of narcotic pain medication in their own families. It seems they are privy to the fact that these medications make way to a rampant abuse from their own medicine shelf at home.

But there are ways to prevent the misuse of prescription drugs and the problem can be contained with a little effort from parents and elders in the family.

1. Gathering information about prescription drug abuse: Adequate and relevant information about prescription drug abuse helps in preventing and controlling the situation. A prescription drug abuse occurs whenever a person uses a medication outside of its specific prescription, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). One should know when a close one in the family is abusing prescription drugs. Taking a higher dose of a drug than prescribed, or combining it with some other substance, or consuming it in other ways than advised, like snorting, is prescription drug abuse.

2. Finding about the most abused prescription drugs: Learning about the most commonly abused medications should alert parents whenever such medicines are prescribed by doctors and are lying at home. NIDA enlists the following medicines as most susceptible to abuse:

  • Depressants: These include barbiturates, benzodiazepines and sleep medications.
  • Opioids: These include drugs like codeine, methadone, morphine, fentanyl and analogs.
  • Stimulants: These include medicines like these amphetamines and methylphenidate.

3. Keeping drugs out of reach: This is an elementary step in keeping prescription drugs at a safe distance. Keeping any such medicines that are prone to abuse will prevent misuse by children at home. There are medicine bottles with child-resistant caps available in the market. They can be a viable option.

4. Proper listing of medicines at home: One should always keep a track of all available medicines at home to prevent any inappropriate use. A proper sheet should be maintained listing every single drug that is lying at home. A periodic check of medicines present at home will give a fair idea.

5. Proper disposal of unused medicines: It is advisable to dispose of unused medicines as per the instructions mentioned on the label. In other cases, the medicines should be removed from the original vial, putting them with undesirable stuff, sealed and then trashed in bins. Also, take advantage of drug take away programs available in your area. By far, it is the best remedial and responsible measure in disposing of unused medicines by anyone.

6. Some don’ts: It is dangerous to stock medicines to be used the next time. One should strictly avoid doing so. Moreover, medicines should not be kept at an easily searchable location and one should refrain from sharing them with others.

These simple, yet proven steps would help protect your family from prescriptions drug abuse and help the nation tackle the epidemic.

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