The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is sponsoring a week of education and prevention with its Rx OTC awareness week, and the City of Santa Clarita is joining the efforts with its Blue Ribbon Task Force.
The program is aimed at curbing what rxotcawarenessweek.com calls the biggest drug problem facing our youth today: prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse.
The awareness week starts February 22 and runs through February 28.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, first-time drug use among 12-17 year-olds is rapidly increasing, largely due to the availability of over-the-counter and prescription drugs in home medicine cabinets.
The city is asking parents to take note of the prescription and over-the-counter medications in their medicine cabinets, and to talk to their children about the dangers of taking medication without a prescription.
"Prescription and over-the-counter drug use is increasingly common among youth and teens due to the fact that it is often easily available and perceived as safe," said Mayor Laurene Weste. "Parents should pay attention to the quantities of prescription and over-the-counter drugs at home, keep them out of reach of children, and watch out for signs of drug abuse."
Some indicators of drug abuse may be increased sleep, isolation, lack or loss of hygiene constant illness, and bouts of anger or depression.
"The medicine in these pills can do serious harm," said Cary Quashen, CEO of Action Family Counseling. "Kids go into comas, have seizures, overdose and actually lose their lives when it comes to taking pills."
The statistics on this type of drug use and abuse can be astounding:
- Every day, 2500 kids age 12 to 17 try a painkiller for the first time.
- Teens now abuse prescription/OTC drugs more than almost all others drugs combined
- 1 in 3 teens reports having a close friend who abuses prescription drugs.
- 6 percent of 12 graders nationwide report past year abuse of cough and cold medicines to get high
- Over 90 percent of prescription drugs abused by children are obtained from their home or the homes of relatives or friends.
- Prescription drug abuse and over the counter medication drug abuse in many instances has eclipsed marijuana for teens, however teens are still using marijuana at a high rate.
Santa Clarita has established three safe drop storage containers for residents looking to dispose of their unused prescriptions and narcotics anonymously.
The drop boxes can be found at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station located at 23740 Magic Mountain Parkway.