The Pharmaceutical Barter System

The Pharmaceutical Barter System

When was the last time you checked YOUR medicine cabinet for expired and/or unnecessary medications? You know, the ones from that surgery you had 4 years ago? Most parents are concerned that their kids will experiment with street drugs and alcohol, but the reality is, many are dipping into their parents medicine cabinets looking for a cheap (free) and easy way to propel themselves into delirium. In actuality, prescription drugs are more accessible and are often mistaken for being safer because the drug has been legitimized by an MD.

According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America:

  • 1 in 5 teens has abused a prescription pain medication
  • 1 in 5 report abusing prescription stimulants and tranquilizers
  • 1 in 10 has abused cough medicine

One of the more disturbing trends among teens are “pharm parties“:  kids raiding their parents’ medicine cabinets for prescription drugs and bartering their finds amongst themselves to get high. While the term itself is up for debate and often criticized for being a media fallacy, the behavior is real and easily confirmed from a treatment standpoint. There’s nary a counselor who has worked with adolescents that will claim falsehood in relation to pharmaceutical bartering amongst the teen set. Two driving factors of adolescent prescription drug abuse are:

  • a misperception that prescription medication isn’t harmful
  • the ease of access to these drugs at home, a friends house, and even the Internet.

So, here’s some sage words of advice for worried friends and families alike:

  • be mindful of what you have and how much you have
  • keep track of your refills
  • if your teen has been prescribed a drug, make sure YOU monitor it, not them
  • educate your friends and relatives about the danger of prescription drugs
  • discard drugs that are either expired or which are no longer needed
  • when disposing of medications, mix them with undesirable items like coffee grounds or kitty litter
  • do not flush medication down the toilet
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