As the number one cause of accidental death in the nation, drug overdoses might often be due to the easy access that many adolescents have to their parents’ medicine cabinet. Many of the drugs include opioid-based prescriptions. Instead of looking for street drugs, teens pilfer their parents’ medicine cabinet.
An Overview of Opioids
Narcotics, including opioids and opiates, are any form of medication that relieves pain and discomfort by reducing how pain signals reach the brain. Legal narcotics, or prescription drugs, and illegal drugs, usually come in the form of heroin, commonly known by its street terms like brown sugar, china white, smack or white horse, among others.
Alarming Opioid Statistics
Every day in 2014, more than three dozen people across the country lost their lives due to accidental opioid overdoses or more than double those who died from heroin overdoses. In other words, more people die every day from overdosing on legal drugs than illegal drugs. Furthermore, more than 50 percent of teenagers perceive prescription drugs as safer than illegal street drugs. Teen heroin use has risen by an alarming 80 percent in first-time users between the ages of 12-17 since 2002.
In 2014, 94 percent of people treated for opioid addiction said that they chose heroin because prescription narcotics were far more expensive and more difficult to obtain. Yet, if not kept in a safe place, teens can easily access these drugs inside their own homes
Substituting Legal Opioids for Heroin
Parents might not realize what dose of a prescription drug compares with an equal dose for a low-tolerance heroin user. A better understanding of the inherent dangers of prescription drugs makes it apparent how dangerous it is for teens to have such easy access to their medicine cabinets. Parents accidentally supply their children with drugs.
Comparison of Legal Opioids and Heroin
Children can obtain prescription drugs from the medicine cabinet and easily ingest lethal doses of legal drugs. For example, 15 pills of 60 mg. codeine pills contain the equivalent of a low tolerance dose of 10 mg. of heroin. In excessive doses, other substances in codeine medication can also possibly result in kidney damage.
If you are keeping Methadone in your medicine cabinet, it takes just a few pills to equal a low-tolerance dosage of 10 mg. of heroin. Similarly, your son or daughter can experience these effects with a 15-30 mg. dosage of morphine. Taking 5-15 mg. of Oxycodone, or Oxycontin, is also equivalent to a 30. mg pill of low tolerance heroin.
As parents, you can take the following preventative measures:
- Educate yourself about legal and illicit opioids and other prescriptions
- Keep all prescription medications out of reach or locked away from adolescents.
- Discuss the dangers of narcotic use with your teen
- Become involved with your adolescent, including meeting friends.
These actions can keep your teen from becoming another statistic in an accidental and preventable drug overdose.