I recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Catizone and help spread awareness about the April 27th, 2013 DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and prescription drug abuse.
I did this for three reasons,
- It’s something that I believe in. We have to do what we can to become more knowledgeable about prescription drugs, so we can recognize the signs of someone needing help.
- Help protect our children. Prescription drug use is on the rise. I am sure many of you have heard about it on TV and everywhere else. It’s huge, a drug of choice and I don’t know about you but I have children I want to educated and protect. Anything I can do to protect my babies, I AM DOING IT!
- To help others realize the importance of this horrible trend. So many people still think, “its okay the doctor gave it to me.” Sure they give it to us to control pain, or whatever… but it’s the person taking the pill that has to realize it’s becoming a problem. I think many abuse it before they realize it.
As a parent you might find yourself very mindful of the curious eyes and wandering hands in our homes. From itty bitty toddlers, to teens, family and friends. Do you stop to worry about your old, possibly half full prescription bottle? Yes, the one that is way back in the back of the cabinet, the one you forgot about?
Help us educate and stop this horrific trend of prescription drug abuse. National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation and their AWARxE Consumer Protection Program to inform you that April 27th is DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
Here’s a little scary fact! Are you aware that 50% of prescription drug abusers are 12 years and older get those prescription drugs from families and friends? Three in five teens say that they could get their hands on prescription meds by simply heading to their parents medicine cabinet. Pretty scary isn’t it!
There is good news, we can dispose of them the right way, and help keep them out of the wrong hands. Possibly our children’s hands! You can dispose of you unneeded medications for FREE! Held from 10am to 2pm on April 27, 2013 the event is one of the few days that we can drop off those expired and unused prescriptions meds without having to wonder, or worry if they will even be accepted! You can bring them all, even controlled substances. Either way I hope this helps to educate some of you, I know it’s been a learning experience for me. Huge thanks to Dr. Catizone for spreading awareness and taking the time to answer some of my question.
Dr. Catizone is the Executive Director of NABP and a licensed pharmacist. I would like to thank him for taking the time out of his busy day to help raise awareness!
- Can you tell me a little bit about the statistics and trends of prescription drug abuse in the United States?
Prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions across the country and touches all generations. In fact, in 2011, over 6 million people aged 12 or older abused prescription drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a government agency that conducts a national survey on related topics each year. The same survey showed that over 50% of people abusing these drugs got them from friends or family for free. Often those who abuse drugs, including teens, take them right of the medicine cabinet.
Every year, more than 15,000 people die from overdoses of prescription painkillers, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For each death, there are an additional 10 treatment admissions, 32 emergency department visits, and 825 nonmedical users of these drugs. In 2009 alone, 1.2 million emergency department visits were related to misuse or abuse of prescription drugs, compared with 1 million visits related to use of illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
- What are commonly abused prescription drugs in teen and young adults?
Pain medications, such as Vicodin® and OxyContin®, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medications, such as Adderall® are among the prescription drugs most commonly abused by teens and young adults. Among young adults age 18-22 those in college full time are twice as likely to abuse a stimulant such as Adderall compared to part-time students and those not in college.
- How do the prescription drugs affect the brain, why are they so addicting?
Prescription opioid drugs work by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other organs, and diminishing the perception of pain. These drugs can also affect areas of the brain connected with how we perceive pleasure and may cause feelings of euphoria or deep relaxation. When someone abuses an opioid pain medication, these feelings can be intensified. Repeated abuse can lead to addiction.
Stimulants, such as Adderall, work by enhancing the effects of neurotransmitters in the brain. Thus, the drug stimulates certain processes in the brain and body and can boost alertness, attention, and energy. The appropriate dose of a stimulant can help people with certain conditions such as ADHD. However, when abused, these medications can disrupt the normal communication between brain cells and may cause euphoria, leading to the risk of addiction.
Abusing either of these drug types, or any other prescription or over-the-counter medication can be extremely dangerous and cause serious health consequences.
- What long term affects can abusing prescription drugs have on a teenager or young adult?
A primary concern is the risk of health injuries, overdose, and fatalities for anyone who abuses prescription drugs. When taken according to a doctor’s instructions, prescription drugs can bring positive health benefits. But when misused and abused, prescription drugs can have harmful health effects.
There is also a risk for addiction. In fact, with the rise in prescription drug abuse, there has been a rise in people seeking treatment for addiction. Between 1998 and 2008, the proportion of people who were admitted for substance abuse treatment and reported abusing prescription pain relievers grew more than four times.
Further, when abusing prescription drugs, teens and young adults risk long-term damage to the brain that may affect their ability to learn, focus, and organize thoughts. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that abuse of drugs can cause long-lasting effects on the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for critical thinking and abstract thought, and functions such as focusing attention, organizing thoughts, controlling impulses, and forming strategies for future action.
- What are steps parents can to recognize and prevent prescription drug abuse in teens and young adults?
Parents may recognize prescription drug abuse if they observe their children experiencing side effects of abuse. Side effects associated with prescription drug abuse include dizziness, loss of appetite, unconsciousness, impaired memory, mood swings, loss of motor coordination, trouble breathing and rapid or irregular heartbeat.
An important prevention step is to talk with teens about the serious dangers of prescription drug abuse. This step is important as many teens do not realize that abusing prescription drugs is just as dangerous as using illicit drugs. For example, a recent survey revealed that less than 36% of 8th grade students see occasional nonmedical use of Vicodin or OxyContin as a great risk. However, most 8th grade students perceive regular marijuana use and occasional heroin use as a great risk.
There are many resources on AWARErx.org that can help initiate conversations with your children. For teens, a video recommended by AWARXE, called The Road to Nowhere, tells the story of a teen who experimented with prescription drugs at a party and became addicted to the drugs. A link to the video is available on the AWARXE Get Local Oklahoma page. Also, the AWARXE Student page includes resources for elementary school students, as well as for middle school and high school students.
- What are things we can do to prevent our prescriptions from getting into the wrong hands?
In addition to talking with their children about prescription drug abuse dangers, parents should securely store all medications in the household. For example, you may want to lock your medications in a secure cabinet or a medicine safe. In particular, you should securely store controlled substance prescription drugs, such as certain pain medications and ADHD medications. Remember that sometimes prescription drugs are taken out of medicine cabinets by visitors to the home, such as a teen’s guests.
You may also wish to keep track of the number of pills left in the bottle.
If you have pills or medication that is no longer needed or has expired, dispose of it at an authorized DEA Take-Back location, or a local medication disposal program. The next DEA Take-Back Day is April 27, 2013 and collection sites will be located across the country.
More information about the DEA Take-Back Day, including a link to the Take-Back Day locator, is available on the AWARXE Medication Disposal page.
- Where can we find help if we know someone who is abusing prescription drugs? Is there something that can help them overcome the addiction? If so what are the chances it will keep someone from using?
Seeking advice and assistance from your family health care provider, such as your doctor is recommended. Your doctor can provide information and/or referrals to local programs that help identify abuse and treat addiction.
If teens are in need of help, a school’s guidance counselor can also be an excellent resource for local information.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides an online substance abuse treatment locator and links to resources about addiction and treatment on its Web site. As with many conditions, treatment outcomes are specific to the individual undergoing treatment. But, starting with the SAMHSA treatment locator and family health care providers, there are many resources available for those seeking addiction treatment.
Check out the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy prescription drug abuse Publish Serivce Announcement.
Be sure and stay up to date, and say thanks for everything they do and “like” AWARxE on Facebook.
To learn more about the April 27th DEA Take-Back Day you can visit AWARERX.ORG
Cited Links and Sources
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2011 National Survey Results: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2011SummNatFindDetTables/Index.aspx
- “Prescription Painkiller Overdoses in the U.S.,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): http://www.cdc.gov/Features/VitalSigns/PainkillerOverdoses/index.html
- “Overdoses of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers – United States, 1999-2008,” CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6043a4.htm
- Monitoring the Future: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org//pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2012.pdf
- AWARXE Get Local Oklahoma (Road to Nowhere Video): http://www.awarerx.org/get-local/oklahoma
- AWARXE DEA Nationwide Drug Take-Back Sites: http://www.awarerx.org/get-informed/find-disposal-information/option-2-dea-nationwide-drug-take-back-sites
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration online treatment locator: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/TreatmentLocator/faces/quickSearch.jspx