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September 30, 2011

Prescription Medicine Abuse and Teen-agers by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse is increasing, especially by teen-agers.  Parents should educate themselves and their teen-agers about this problem before it’s too late.  

The expert findings are alarming.  The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health illustrates that the abuse of prescription medications such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives is second only to marijuana, the most commonly abused illegal drug in the United States.

The 2010 Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institutes of Health, indicates that approximately 5 percent of teen-agers in the United States report having abused an over-the-counter cough medicine to get high, and prescription and over-the-counter drugs account for eight of the 14 most frequently abused drugs by students in grade 12.

The survey also indicates that the intentional abuse of cough medicine among students in grades 8, 10, and 12 is at 3.2 percent, 5.1 percent, and 6.6 percent, respectively;

According to research from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, more than one-third of teen-agers mistakenly believe that taking prescription drugs, even if not prescribed by a doctor, is much safer than using street drugs.

An analysis by the Los Angeles Times found that commonly abused prescription drugs for anxiety or pain are skyrocketing in their involvement in drug-related deaths.

The U.S. Senate adopted a resolution, which I cosponsored as co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, designating October 2011 as “National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month” to raise attention to prescription medicine abuse, especially by teen-agers.  

The resolution is meant to educate parents and teen-agers about the potential dangers in the family medicine cabinet and save lives.

There are a number of ways to discard prescription medicines that are no longer needed.  In Iowa, more than 420 pharmacies statewide (click here to find the one nearest you) are participating in TakeAway, a community pharmacy-based pharmaceutical collection and disposal program created in 2009.  Local law enforcement departments also often accept medication for disposal.  And every six months the federal Drug Enforcement Administration sponsors take-back events for controlled substances, including prescriptions.  The next national take-back day is set for October 29, 2011.  Click here to locate the events in Iowa.