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— According to a recent study, prescription drug abuse by Arkansas teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 is higher than prescription drug abuse by teens in any other state in the nation. Yet Arkansas teenagers are not alone in experiencing this problem. In fact, prescription drug abuse is a persistent, yet rarely discussed, problem affecting millions of teenagers today.

In a February, 2007, study, the Office of National Drug Control writes,"Next to marijuana, the most common illegal drugs teens are using to get high are prescription mediations. Teens are abusing prescription drugs because they believe the myth that these drugs provide a medically safe high." This common misconception leads some teens to bring prescription drugs from their home and share them with kids at school or participate in "pharm/pharming parties" where they pour the prescription drugs they've obtained into a bowl and ingest a random assortment or otherwise barter for the pills they desire.

Some things you can do to prevent your teen from abusing prescription drugs include: Monitor the quantity of pills that are in a bottle or pill packet and keep track of refills. This goes for your own medications as well as for your teen or other family members.

1. Set clear rules for your teens about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following the medical provider's advice and dosages.

2. Be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medicines. If you misuse your prescription drugs, such as share them with your kids or abuse, them your teen will take notice.

3. Properly dispose of old or unused medicines in the trash. Remember to remove any personal, identifiable information from prescription bottles or pill packages before you throw them away.

4. Ask friends and family to safeguard their prescription drugs as well. Make sure your friends and relatives, especially grandparents, know about the risks too and encourage them to regularly monitor their own medicine cabinet. If you don't know the parents of your child's friends, make an effort to get to know them and get on the same page about rules and expectations for use of all drugs, including alcohol and illicit drugs.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is urging parents to sit down and talk with their teens about safe and unsafe uses of prescription drugs.

To learn more about teenage prescription drug abuse, including how to tell if your teenager is abusing prescription drugs, visit the following sites:

• www.drugfree.org/

• www.theantidrug.com/

• www.kidshealth.org/

• www.teendrugabuse. us/

News, Pages 7 on 09/23/2009

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