We all know that teens are particularly attracted to smoking weed, but I feel like sometimes we miss out on the allure of prescriptions drugs as well. Who doesn't see a dozen or more commercials every couple of days for a new pain or sleep medication? Well, if you do, then so does your kid.
Also, dosages are wildly different. An Ativan (lorazepam) at 0.5 mg can pack a huge punch just like a 10 mg Percocet (different punch, still really dangerous), but people see them like shots/beers where one beer is one beer, give or take a couple of percentage points of alcohol. It's just not true, and it's dangerous to the point where you can die. I can't stress that enough to the teens I work with: This isn't joking around, and they ask me what could happen. "Um, how do I put this? You die." Mix these with alcohol like you may at a party? You will, or should, end up in the ER as soon as possible.
Pills come from different manufacturers, so that round white pill made by Astra Zeneca may be the same exact drug (just a generic) as that blue oval coming from TEVA, and that can throw kids off, too. Same with pills having different names generically (amphetamine salts) than they do with their brand names (Adderall). I hear a lot about teens/college kids being offered Adderall to help them study, and when I ask what dosage and if it's extended release, I get a look like I just asked them a calculus problem (for which they need an Adderall to focus on and solve, so maybe I should change my approach).
An example is Ambien. It comes in a small white circular pill that says TEVA on one side and 74 on the other. It also comes as a white caplet. And a yellow caplet. And a red one. And they look like other drugs, like a generic Tylenol (acetaminophen) or some brands of Vicodin (hydrocodone).
One of the other biggest dangers of taking meds that aren't yours? You have no idea what you're allergic to until you either get a test (doesn't happen with most medications that are used for partying) or have an allergic reaction. Well, what if you took a Xanny, Ambien, and Molly? You don't know which is hurting you, or which combination, or even what the hell you actually took. Those are some pretty terrible last thoughts to have before, well, you don't have any more thoughts.
Unfortunately, where do kids get these pills a good amount of time? From your medicine cabinet. Those leftover Vicodin or Oxycotin or Percocet from your root canal that you just never threw away? Those are major party/self-medication drugs that you're probably not keeping track of. Those 90-day prescriptions, even 30-day, that you're not checking on every day an wouldn't notice if one or two went missing? Those are just as vulnerable.
You should always be watching your medication and knowing how much you have, where it is, and making sure that it's inaccessible from your kids. Products like this Timer Cap can help you keep an eye on your meds even when you can't. They also help you know if your child or forgetful spouse or parent forget/lie about taking their medication.
Oh, and one quick note: People don't just steal these for their own use, they trade and sell them. Unfortunately, it can be pretty easy and lucrative to do so (a lot of painkillers can go for a dollar a milligram). Good luck explaining to a college that federal felony of selling prescription drugs without a license. Selling doesn't need to involve money; trading can count as selling. That can easily result in your child not going to their choice of college, or any college, because that's pretty hard to explain away and impossible to do from a jail cell. Dreams of going into the medical field? Might want to look somewhere else, as who is going to enroll/hire someone who has already broken the cardinal rule of doing no harm?
As seniors enter their lame duck semester that they think doesn't really count and college kids come to the last week of their winter break, partying will increase. And please don't think, "Not my kid!" You have no idea how many parent-described "perfect angels" I've worked with that either sneak the pills or just plain don't know the dangers of them. Talk with your kids and take an inventory of the pills in your house. Keep it safe so that you don't end up sorry.