Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse Highlighted During National Safety Month
June 8, 2016
As part of National Safety Month, families are encouraged to learn about the dangers of prescription drug abuse—along with how these drugs are obtained.
"Prescription drug abuse often starts with a legal prescription, or from someone diverting pills from a friend or family member," said Karen Wolownik Albert, Executive Director at Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers. "National Safety Month is a great time to remind parents and families about the issue of addiction and how it may be prevented."
Poisonings are the leading cause of preventable deaths among 25 to 64 year olds, largely from drug overdoses and prescription opioids, according to the National Safety Council.
"Because these drugs are prescribed by a doctor, many people falsely believe they're risk free, but prescription drugs can be just as addictive and lethal as illicit drugs bought on the street," Albert said. "Your brain and body sees no difference between a prescription opioid like hydrocodone and street-purchased heroin."
Young people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to prescription drug abuse and addiction. Teens prefer prescription drugs as their drug of choice, second only to marijuana, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Teen brains are not yet fully developed, and can be very sensitive to drugs and alcohol. Frequent use of drugs and alcohol may permanently alter or impair brain development.
Gateway offers these steps parents can take to reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse within their families:
- Use medications only as prescribed or directed on the label.
- Keep such medications in a secure and concealed location.
- Don't share prescriptions with a friend or family member.
- Properly dispose of unwanted or expired prescriptions to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Local pharmacies or the police may accept unwanted medications.
- Monitor family members for any unusual behavior if they're taking prescription drugs, especially young people who are more susceptible to risk taking and addiction.
Warning signs of prescription drug abuse include changes in health such as sleeping habits, energy level, hygiene, appearance or weight loss. Other signs might include changes in friends, personality or a loss of interest in school or other activities.
Gateway offers a free downloadable guide to prescription drug abuse at: RecoverGateway.org/RxDrugs
About Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment
Since 1968 our goal has been straightforward: to help clients get their life back on track and achieve a life of sobriety, free from drug use and symptoms of mental illness, that is productive, socially responsible, and healthy. Gateway Foundation is the largest nonprofit treatment provider in the country that specializes in the treatment of substance use disorders, providing treatment for men, women, adolescents, and clients diagnosed with co-occurring mental health disorders.
Gateway's Community Division has treatment centers located throughout Illinois, including Carbondale, Chicago, Lake County, Fox Valley, Springfield, and
the St. Louis Metro East area. These centers offer residential and outpatient treatment services for adults, teens, and adolescents accessed through insurance, state funding, and self-pay.
Gateway's professional clinicians help thousands of individuals successfully complete treatment by developing a personalized plan that treats the underlying causes of substance abuse—not just addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Learn more about insurance coverage, treatment options, or Gateway's confidential consultation at RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673).
Reporters and Editors, for more information, please call Jason Stutz at 312-663-1130.