Seventy-five parents and youth advocates were informed about teens misusing prescription drugs at a parenting conference last week. The conference, “Got Your Script, But Is It Legit? Prescription Drugs: Healing or Harmful,” was conducted at Francis Marion University on March 19. The Parenting Issues Task Force of the Florence County Coalition for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention hosted the event geared toward increasing the community’s awareness of the growing abuse of prescription drugs and its related legal and health consequences. The conference is an annual event provided by the Florence County Coalition to provide the latest alcohol and other drug use trends facing the youth in our community.
This year’s conference featured presentations by: • Keynote Speaker: Dr. Paul V. Demarco, University Physician, Francis Marion University • Teena Carpenter, Treatment Counselor, Circle Park Behavioral Health Services • Debra Donahue, Social Worker, Department of Social Services • Julie Duff, Sergeant, City of Florence Police Department • Sam Fryer. Behavior Health Counselor, Florence School District One • Clyde Nance, Director of Prevention Services, Circle Park Behavioral Health Services • Sharon Walters, Manager of Health Services, Francis Marion University
The information provided to attendees alerted them that our country and community are currently witnessing a significant spike in illicit adolescent prescription drug use. The PartnershipforDrugfree.org 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 PartnershipforDrugfree.org 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 family or friends. 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, said Clyde Nance.
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 Partnership for Drugfree.org 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. Conference attendees were encouraged to promote a healthy lifestyle and set appropriate strategies at home to support children in dealing with peer pressure, stress, and difficult emotions.
One of the most effective tools that a parent can use is simply initiating a dialogue with their child in regards to the risk and consequences involved with illicit prescription drug use. It is also important to set clear and consistent guidelines and rules in regards to your expectations for the choices that you child makes. Also, as we have seen with other drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, the initiation of the age of first use of prescription drugs continues to fall; so it is critical that having the “drug talk” with your child occurs in the pre-teen years. The conference strongly encouraged parents to embrace the incredible influence they have on the choices children make. Exercise your right to be an informed and active parent in supporting your children in facing this new threat to their health, safety and happiness. For more information prescription drug abuse, contact Circle Park Behavioral Health Services at 843-669-8087.