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Only one-third of teens say they have discussed the risks of abusing prescription medicines with their parents. Yet, kids who learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs.
What teens say
"There is a pain medicine that's popular with the athletes ... some of the guys on the team could be in excruciating pain ... they take two of those and go out and practice ... it's no big deal"
"People use medicine for ADHD when you need to stay awake for a test—it's best in the morning when you wake up tired."
"I took some of my mom's water pills to help me lose weight for wrestling."
Teenagers turn to prescription drugs because they perceive them as less dangerous than illegal drugs. Because of this, teenage prescription drug abuse is on the rise. But the good news is, as a parent, you can influence your teen's decision not to use drugs. The majority of teens still report that their parents—not their peers or the media—have the biggest influence on their decision to stay drug-free. Use this influence to talk to your teen about the danger of misusing prescription drugs.
- In conversations with your teen about drugs, be sure to include prescription drug abuse and why it's harmful. Tell them that taking prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs without a doctor's approval and supervision can be a dangerous—even deadly—decision. Dispel the myth that these drugs are less harmful than street drugs because they are available through a doctor or at the local drug store.
- If you hear about another teenager getting caught abusing prescription drugs, calmly approach your teen about it. It's important to not react in any way that cuts off further discussion.
- Be flexible about when you talk, but not about whether you talk.
- Remember: silence isn't golden. It's permission.
For more information on teenage drug abuse, and for additional ideas on talking with kids about drugs and alcohol, visit timetotalk.org, a website of the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Remember, as a parent, the things you say and do have a large influence on the decisions your child makes—especially when it comes to drugs or alcohol.