Drug Safety Tips for Parents

The Importance of Monitoring Prescription Drug Use for Your Child

Doctors commonly treat pain caused by serious injuries or surgery with prescription medications known as opioids, a class of drug that works by interacting with opioid receptors located in the brain and nervous system to produce a sense of pleasure, reducing pain in the process.[1] From 1994 to 2007, the prescribing rates for prescription opioids among adolescents and young adults nearly doubled.[2] Although doctors often turn to opioids as a treatment option for severe pain in children, teens, and other minors, the misuse of these prescription drugs can lead to serious health risks, and can even cause death.[3] Monitoring the use of prescription drugs for your child’s pain management is one of the ways that you can help avoid a negative outcome.[4]

Monitoring Prescription Drugs: How Opioids Can Affect Your Child

If your child continues to use prescription drugs beyond the recommended period of time or exceeds the recommended dosage, it could lead to substance use disorder over time. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) describes substance use disorder as the repeated use of alcohol or drugs, resulting in impairment of varying levels. Conditions that include drug dependence and drug abuse are both considered forms of substance use disorder.[5] Individuals who use prescription opioids may find that they experience symptoms that affect their health, such as:

    • Euphoria
    • Nausea
    • Itching
    • Confusion
    • Constipation
    • Slurred speech
      • Slow breathing

[6]

In addition to affecting their health, prescription drugs may also cause users to experience behavioral changes as well.[7] While monitoring the use of prescription drugs for your child, look for signs of ongoing drug use that include:

    • Irritability
    • Lack of interest in activities
    • Decreased focus
      • Withdrawal from others

[8]

How to Dispose of Your Child’s Unused Prescription Drugs

Eliminate the likelihood of your child misusing prescription drugs that are unused or expired by removing these substances from your home.[9] How to properly dispose of unused prescription drugs is dependent upon factors that include whether or not the medication includes disposal instructions, your location, and the availability of medication collection receptacles.[10] In September of 2014, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) put guidelines into place regarding proper methods for prescription drug disposal.[11] Below is a list of methods to ensure that drugs are disposed of safely.

    • Read prescription instructions.

You may find instructions for proper drug disposal located on the prescription label, or in any patient information that is included with the drug. Be sure to follow these directions in order to ensure that the drugs are safely disposed of.

    • Take advantage of drug take-back programs.

The DEA’s National Drug Take-Back Day was created with the goal of collecting unused drug donations, helping to keep the drugs out of the hands of individuals who might misuse them. Programs that are similar to this may be supported by the local law enforcement in your community as well.

    • Place prescription drugs in a collection receptacle.

Some communities have what are referred to as “collectors.” These sites are registered with the DEA and are trusted locations in which you can dispose of your unused prescriptions drugs in a drop box.

    • Follow the proper steps for at-home disposal.

If you decide to simply throw your unused prescriptions in the trash, take extra precautions. Start by placing the medication into a substance that would make it unable to be consumed, such as cat litter. Place the drug mixture into a disposable container or sealed bag before throwing it away. Alternately, many companies sell medication disposal systems wherein you place your excess prescription medications into bags or other containers that are specially designed to neutralize medications. These products prevent the drugs from being used by others or leaking into soil or groundwater. Prescription bottles can be thrown away or recycled as well, although it is suggested that you first mark out any identifiers on the bottle in order to protect your personal information.

    • Avoid flushing medication down the toilet, unless instructed.

Although the FDA has determined that some drugs can be safely disposed of by flushing them down the toilet, this does not apply to all prescription drugs.[12] Flushing medications that are not approved could actually cause medications to enter drinking water by way of groundwater, or after making its way to rivers and lakes.[13]

Your Role in Promoting Drug Safety: Tips for Parents

Drug overdose became the number one cause of accidental death in the United States as of 2014, with over 18,893 overdose deaths attributed to the use of prescription drugs.[14] This statistic further highlights the importance of monitoring prescription drugs for your child’s safety. In addition to monitoring your child’s use of medication, you should also educate yourself about drugs in general and communicate with your child in regards to the health risks associated with misusing prescription drugs.[15]


[1]“Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures.” Asam.org. Retrieved from http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf on July 15, 2016. http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf on July 15, 2016.

[2]“Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures.” Asam.org. Retrieved from http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf on July 15, 2016. http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf on July 15, 2016.

[3]“Opioids and Chronic Pain.” Medlineplus.gov. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/spring11/articles/spring11pg9.html on July 15, 2016.

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[4]“Preventing Teen Abuse of Prescription Drugs Fact Sheet.” Drugfree.org. Retrieved fromhttp://www.drugfree.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Fact-Sheet-Preventing-Teen-Abuse-of-Prescription-Drugs.pdf on July 15, 2016.

[5]“Substance Use Disorders.” Samhsa.gov. Retrieved fromhttp://www.samhsa.gov/disorders/substance-use on July 15, 2016.

[6]“Painkillers, Narcotic Abuse, and Addiction.” Webmd.com. Retrieved fromhttp://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/painkillers-and-addiction-narcotic-abuse#1 on July 15, 2016.

[7]“Prescription Drug Misuse/Abuse and Your Kids.” Mass.gov. Retrieved fromhttp://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/substance-abuse/prevention/prescription-drug-misuse-abuse-and-your-kids.html on July 15, 2016.

[8]“Prescription Drug Misuse/Abuse and Your Kids.” Mass.gov. Retrieved fromhttp://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/substance-abuse/prevention/prescription-drug-misuse-abuse-and-your-kids.html on July 15, 2016.

[9]“How to Dispose of Unused Medicines.” Fda.gov. Retrieved fromhttp://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm101653.htm on July 15, 2016.

[10]“How to Dispose of Unused Medicines.” Fda.gov. Retrieved fromhttp://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm101653.htm on July 15, 2016.

[11]“Disposal Act: General Public Fact Sheet.” Usdoj.gov. Retrieved fromhttp://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/fact_sheets/disposal_public.pdf on July 15, 2016.

[12]“Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know.” Fda.gov. Retrieved fromhttp://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/EnsuringSafeUseofMedicine/SafeDisposalofMedicines/ucm186187.htm#Flush_List on July 15, 2016.

[13]“How to Dispose of Medicines Properly.” Epa.gov. Retrieved fromhttps://archive.epa.gov/region02/capp/web/pdf/ppcpflyer.pdf on July 15, 2016.

[14]“Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures.” Asam.org. Retrieved fromhttp://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf on July 15, 2016.

[15] “Preventing Teen Abuse of Prescription Drugs Fact Sheet.” Drugfree.org. Retrieved fromhttp://www.drugfree.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Fact-Sheet-Preventing-Teen-Abuse-of-Prescription-Drugs.pdf on July 15, 2016.



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