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Children and prescription drug addiction

May 1, 2012 3:42:31 PM PDT
Those painkillers in your medicine cabinet for your bad tooth may be a tempting source of narcotics for some young people. Abuse of narcotics and other similar drugs is now epidemic.

Prescription drug overdoses killed more people than heroin and cocaine combined. It's the number one killer of young people, auto accidents is number two. And a serious issue in abuse of these pills is that it all starts close to home.

We met two young women who were addicted to prescription narcotics before coming here to Phoenix House. They didn't even ask for them. Friends and family started them off.

"A family member introduced me to narcotics, Vicodin, and they said it would make me feel better because I was under a lot of pressure being young," Tiffany, 22, said.

"My best friend got dental work and she had Vicodin, she gave me a couple and it was off to the races, i was 13," Jamie Lynn, now 24, said.

Thirteen and already taking painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin. Others may be anxiety pills such as Valium, Xanax and Ativan. They get them at parties.

"Pill parties - where kids go to the medicine chest and take out pills, put them in a bowl and then take a random number of pills, to see what happens," Deni Carise, PhD., of the Phoenix House said.

Kids can just buy them on the web. And that party at your house, can a guest raid your meds cabinet? You bet.

Young people end up here at Phoenix House for one main reason having to do with risk taking the brain areas that allow you to judge the risk of behavior such as using drugs doesn't develop until the mid 20's.

For these young women, expensive pills led quickly to heroin and street drugs. The interval for Jamie Lynn?

"About three weeks...it was quick. I was paying about $80 a pill. The heroin was only ten dollars a bag," she said.

So keep track of your kids' web browsing, throw out old pills, and lock up the rest. Talk to your children.

"It's not a matter of just saying no. We know kids won't listen to that, but it's a matter of what about your goals in your life. Might using drugs hinder?" Dr. Carise said.

That means serious talk about the rest of a child's life. Dr. Carise told me a story of parents who drug-test their kids at home. For one of their children at a party, it's easier to tell a peer he can't take pills because his parents test him. It puts the onus on the adults, not the child.

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