Pop super star Prince died of an overdose from opioid painkillers, at age 57; he became the latest high-profile victim of America’s opioid epidemic.
Prince died unexpectedly at his home in Minnesota on April 21. Prince died of an overdose from fentanyl, a highly potent opioid.
The news of Prince's overdose is absolutely tragic, but it's also an issue that Americans are becoming more and more aware of. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, one in five Americans has a family member who's addicted to prescription painkillers, and more than four in 10 Americans personally know someone who's addicted. And in 2014, overdose deaths reached a record high, because of the increase in opioid deaths.
As a parent of a teenager, you may have spoken to your child about illegal drugs and their harmful effects. But did you know that legally prescribed medicines are also a cause of concern?
An alarming number of teenagers are more likely to have abused prescription and over-the-counter drugs than some illegal drugs, like ecstasy, cocaine, crack, and methamphetamines.
The dangers of prescription medicine abuse include dependence, slower brain activity, irregular heartbeats, dangerously high body temperature, heart failure, or lethal seizures. Prescription drug abuse also increases emergency room visits and suicide attempts. In 2009, more than 1 million emergency room visits involved the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. The easiest way for teens to obtain prescription medicines is from their friends or their parents’ medicine cabinet. It’s so common that it could happen even in your house!
Nearly one in four teens (23 percent) report taking a prescription drug not prescribed to them by a doctor at least once in their lives.
Almost half of teens (47 percent) say it is easy to get prescription drugs from a parent’s medicine cabinet.
Teens are abusing everything from pain medicines to stimulants, sedatives, and tranquilizers. Parents can make a difference. Kids who continue to learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs than those who are not taught about the dangers. Only 22 percent of teens report discussing the risks of abusing any prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription with their parents.
The best way to prevent prescription drug abuse is to first educate yourself. That way, you can accurately and adequately present the facts when you talk with your teen. It’s up to YOU to talk openly with your kids!