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  • Prescription drug use...a silent epidemic

Prescription drug use...a silent epidemic

on Tuesday, 16 June 2015. Posted in Editorials, Opinions

Randy Cole
CEO Circle Park Behavioral Health Services

As alcohol and tobacco use rates by youth continue to hold steady nationally, a new and potentially fatal illicit drug is gaining popularity. Our country and community are currently witnessing a significant spike in illicit adolescent prescription drug use. The has recently reported that nearly 25% of teens today have misused or abused a prescription drug. The reasons for this recent surge in illicit prescription drug use by youth are many.

They include the increased availability of prescription drugs, a rise in stimulant drug use such as Adderall and Ritalin, the mistaken notion that prescription medications are safer and less addictive than illegal drugs and their glorification by pop culture’s music and entertainment messages. The also reports that there has been a 50% increase in retail pharmacy prescriptions for opioids (painkillers) in the last decade, the most frequently abused prescription drug. This increase in prescriptions has made them much more readily available for teens to gain access to for their illicit use.

In fact, 70% of all prescription drugs abused in our country are obtained from the homes of family or friends. Most often, the unused or readily accessible medications of parents, grandparents and other relatives are taken and illegally consumed. As we face this new challenge to the health and safety of our youth, parents will continue to play a vital role in the prevention of prescription drug use by their children. Research continues to show that parents have the greatest influence on the decisions their children make in regards to the use and initiation of alcohol and other drugs.

The finds that over 80% of parents discuss the dangers of alcohol and marijuana with their children, but less that 20% include the dangers of prescription drugs in their discussion. This is perhaps where parents can become the first line of defense to the increasing threat of prescription drugs. We as a community can also actively involve ourselves in decreasing the access to expired and unused prescription medications by assisting with their safe and appropriate disposal.

The Florence County Coalition for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention, the Florence County Collaborative Council, City of Florence Police Department, Florence County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake City Police Department are teaming together to sponsor a Prescription Drug Take Back Day which will be held Saturday June 20th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Drop off locations will include:
• First Baptist Church parking lot - Florence
• West Florence High School parking lot - Florence
• Lake City Senior Center – Lake City
• Johnsonville Rescue Squad - Johnsonville.

You can simply drive up and drop off any expired or unused prescription medications at these locations and help support making the Florence community a safer one for youth and adults alike. For more information about Florence County’s Drug Take Back Day, Contact Circle Park Behavioral Health Services at 843-665-9349.

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