Talking to Your Patients About Prescription Drug Abuse

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Talking to Your Patients About Prescription Drug Abuse

Please remind your patients that prescription drugs, when usedcorrectly and under a doctor’s supervision, are safe and effective.Additional ResourcesSpend at least part of each visit withyour teenaged patients without theirparents in the room. Empathize withthe stresses of growing up and identifypositive outlets that can help relievetheir stress, such as sports teams andyouth groups. Also ensure that adultpatients know how to store and usemedicines safely.How common is prescriptiondrug abuse?■■Nearly one in five teens report abusingprescription drugs to get high.Substance Abuse and Mental Health ServicesAdministration (SAMHSA)SAMHSA’s Health Information Network (SHIN)1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727)www.SAMHSA.gov/shinSubstance Abuse and Mental HealthServices Administration (SAMHSA)Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT)240-276-2750www.csat.samhsa.govSAMHSA’s National Helpline800-662-HELP (800-662-4357) (Toll-Free)(English and Spanish)800-487-4889 (TDD) (Toll-Free)Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator:240-276-2548www.samhsa.gov/treatmentNational Council on Patient Informationand Education (NCPIE)301-656-8565www.talkaboutrx.orgDrug Enforcement Agency (DEA)www.getsmartaboutdrugs.comSociety for Adolescent Medicine816-224-8010www.adolescenthealth.orgWhat can I do as aprovider?healthcareYou can influence your patients’decisions about how they useprescription drugs–but nearly halfof physicians find it difficult todiscuss prescription drug abusewith patients. However, even abrief screening can make adifference. For example, ADHD■■■■The majority of the drugs were obtained througha single doctor.Teens most commonly abuse pain relievers(e.g., OxyContin® and Vicodin®), stimulants(e.g., Ritalin® and Adderall®), and sedativesand tranquilizers (e.g.,Valium® and Xanax®).This brochure was prepared under contract number270-03-9001 through the Office of Consumer Affairsin the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT),Substance Abuse and Mental Health ServicesAdministration (SAMHSA), U.S. Departmentof Health and Human Services.ALKING to your patientsabTout prescription drug abuseSMA # 09-4445patients taking prescriptionstimulants need to be preparedto deal with other studentswho may ask for their drugsas a study aid.


Why do kids abuseprescription drugs?Could my teenaged patients, theirfamilies, and other patients be at risk?What questions should I ask myteenaged and adult patients?What should I remind my patientsto do?nnThey are seeking psychological or physical pleasure.They do not understand the risks of taking drugs thatwere not prescribed specifically for them. They alsofail to realize the danger of mixing prescription drugswith alcohol, other prescription drugs, and illegal drugs.n■n■Prescription drug abuse is second only to marijuanause among some teens.More than a quarter of drug-related emergency-roomvisits for people of all ages dealt with prescriptiondrugs in 2005.At each visit with teenaged patients and their guardians,screen for potential drug problems. Try the CAGEscreening tool with teens:n■Have you ever felt the need to Cut down on your useof prescription drugs?n■n■Respect the power of medicine and use it properly.Recognize that all medicines, including prescriptiondrugs, have risks along with benefits. The risks tendto increase dramatically when medicines are abused.nnIt is easier to get prescription drugs than illegal drugs.There is pressure to get better grades or to fit inwith friends. They also may not be aware of other,positive alternatives to help them deal with stress.What do teens and adults notalways realize?n■n■n■n■Abusing prescription drugs, even if they are prescribedby a doctor, is not safer than abusing illegal drugs.Misusing prescription drugs can lead to addiction.Using prescription drugs without a doctor’sprescription or abusing someone else’s prescriptions—or your own—is always harmful, not to mention illegal.Patients must take special precautions when storingmedicines at home to prevent their abuse by others.n■n■n■It is surprisingly easy for teens to gain access to thesedrugs from friends or their own families’ medicinecabinets. Adult patients may also participate in “doctorshopping,” moving from provider to provider to getmultiple prescriptions.Teens are turning to more dangerous methodssuch as crushing pills, then snorting or injecting theircontents. They also are combining them with alcoholor illicit drugs. At “pharming parties,” they may dumpa variety of prescription drugs in a bowl and takethem without knowing what they are.Children, teens, and college students are savvy Internetusers and sometimes order controlled prescriptiondrugs from illegal Web sites.What happens when prescriptiondrugs fall into the wrong hands?Many teens—and adults, too—have carefree attitudestoward the use of prescription drugs. People ages 12to 25 have among the highest rates of prescriptiondrug abuse. Your teenaged patients, their families, andother adult patients may be misinformed about the safestorage and hazards associated with the nonmedicaluse of prescription drugs.n■n■n■Have you ever felt Annoyed by remarks your friends orloved ones made about your use of prescription drugs?Have you ever felt Guilty or remorseful about your useof prescription drugs?Have you Ever used prescription drugs as a way to“get going,” to “calm down,” or to “study better”?Additionally, when you meet with adults(including those with teens at home), askhow they use and store medicines in theirhousehold. Parents often underestimateteens’ use of prescription drugs.Ask the following questions:n■n■n■n■What medicines have you taken and when?Are you missing prescription drugs from yourmedicine cabinet?Does your pharmacy claim to have prescriptions youdid not know about?Do you understand how to take your medicines, whatother medicines you should avoid while taking them,and how you can safely store them in your home?n■Take responsibility for learning how to takeprescription drugs safely and appropriately. Seek help atthe first sign of their own, a friend’s, or child’s problem.How can I help?Determine what medicines have been in thehouse and how they are stored before prescribingcertain drugs.Record how often a patient asks for refills.Encourage patients to avoid stockpilingmedicines and store them safely. Instruct them topromptly and properly dispose of any unused medicines.Speak to all patients about prescription drug abuse—illegal drugs and alcohol are not the only threats.Provide tips to parents. A brochure for parents,“Talking to your kids about prescription drug abuse,”is available at www.talkaboutrx.org.Teach patients how to watch for the negativeside effects of a prescribed drug and what to do ifthis is suspected.Give teens information. A brochure for teens,“Prescription Drugs: They can help, but also hurt,”is available at www.talkaboutrx.org.

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