October is Medicine Abuse Awareness Month

National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, recognized in October, promotes the message that over-the-counter and prescription medicines are to be taken only as labeled or prescribed, and medication abuse is when they are not taken as prescribed by the person they are prescribed for. Prescription drug misuse is a national public health problem; misuse can lead to abuse, addiction, overdose, and even death. 

As parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, and other concerned adults, we spend a lot of time caring for the kids in our lives. While we may talk to them about the dangers of alcohol use, drunk driving, and of using illegal drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine, we often forget about the drugs that are found right in our own medicine cabinets – prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines. 

Today, prescription (Rx) drugs are the most abused drugs after marijuana and alcohol, with one in five reporting that they have misused a prescription drug. A Prevention Needs Assessment (PNA) Survey given in 2017 with students in grades eight through 12 revealed eye-opening data on teen prescription medicine use in our county: 

Did you know that 12.7 percent of youth surveyed in Tioga County schools admitted to taking prescription drugs without a doctor’s permission? Also, 

3.5 percent of 12th graders who reported using a prescription drug without a doctors permission said they were given the drug by a friend or family member for free. When asked how easy it would be to get some prescription pain relievers, 34.8 percent of Tioga County students stated that it would not be too hard.

If you find empty bottles or packages of cough medicine in your child’s bedroom, this is a red flag of medicine abuse. And, if you notice that your child or loved one is showing odd behavior, excessive mood swings, has an increase or decrease in sleep, declining grades or a loss of interest in friends and activities, these are also signs that something is wrong and you should have a talk with them. So while we cannot protect children from everything that can hurt them, we can make a difference when it comes to prescription and over-the-counter medicine.

Talk to them about the dangers of medicine misuse, lock up your medicines, and keep track of your medicines. Unused prescription drugs thrown in the trash can end up in someone else’s hands and misused or illegally sold. Unused drugs that end up flushed infect our water. Safe disposal of unused drugs saves lives and protects the environment. 

Taking the step of cleaning out your medicine cabinet of expired or unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines prevents the chance of overdose deaths or abuse by a family member. Drug Take-back events and medication collection boxes are the best way to dispose of old drugs. 

Tioga County Prescription Drug Collection Boxes are located at the Tioga County Sheriff’s Office in Owego, at the Owego Police Department, at the Apalachin Pharmacy, and at the Waverly Police Department.

For more information, contact the ASAP Coalition by visiting www.tiogaasap.org or on Facebook. 

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