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Guest column/Franklin’s words of wisdom continue to ring true

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

— Benjamin Franklin

If you ask, a person in recovery will tell you this is true. The challenges they face are not easy, but they strive every day to stay in recovery, to win back their independence, their lives.

“Did you know one in 27 youth ages 12 through 17 has misused enough cough medicine to get high from its dextromethorphan ingredient and one in three young adults has misused a prescription drug?” asks the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.

Teens report getting prescription or over-the-counter medicines from the home medicine chest. They “mistakenly believe that abusing them is ‘safer’ than other drugs,” CADCA advises.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse surveys, 20 percent of teens say they have taken a prescription drug without having a prescription; 5 percent report abusing OTC cough medicine to get high.

Dextromethorphan is the active ingredient in most OTC cough medicines. “Taken in excessive amounts DXM can cause serious side effects including rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, memory problems, nausea and vomiting.

“Some teens intentionally take large amounts — sometimes more than 25 times the recommended dose of these medicines — to get high. This means some teens ingest multiple packages or bottles of OTC cough medicines that contain DXM,” CADCA says.

Statistics say that 47 percent of young people use an illegal drug by the time they graduate from high school. Within the last 30 days 5 percent of eighth-graders, 20 percent of 10th-graders and 24 percent of 12th-graders have misused a substance. Do the math. There are about 23.6 million children ages 0-5; 24.4 million, ages 6-11; and 25 million, ages 12-17. There are reasons to be concerned.

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics reports 700,000 drug overdose deaths since 2000, and 19.4 percent of the American people have used illicit drugs at least once. The federal budget for drug control in 2020 was $35 billion.

Poison control centers report that the most common calls are for illegal or misused prescription opioids, with 44 percent of cases of exposure to heroin and fentanyl are in children under the age of 5. There has been a huge increase in the number of children exposed to marijuana and prescription opioids.

October is designated as National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. The goal is to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription drug and OTC cough medicine misuse.

What can you do? Talk about the dangers to your children and to people around you who need to be aware of the risks. Your kids will listen, even if you think they don’t. I can’t count the number of times my own children have said, “I know you think I wasn’t listening, Mom, but see? I was.”

The fact is, teens whose parents talk to them about the risks of drugs are 50 percent less likely to use them.

Take a look at your medicine chest. Time passes so quickly you might not realize how long some of those medicines — drugs and OTC — have been in there. This is an excellent time to take stock of what is there and get rid of medications you aren’t going to use. Drug Take Back Day is Oct. 23.

Go to preventmedabuse.org to find more information including Preventing Teen Cough Medicine Abuse: A Parent’s Guide. You can also visit StopMedicineAbuse.org.

For information about the agency’s treatment and education programs, contact Family Recovery Center at 1010 N. Sixth St., Steubenville, Ohio 43952; by phone at (740) 283-4946; by e-mail at info@familyrecovery.org; or visit the website at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded in part by Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board.

(Brownfield is a publicist at the Family Recovery Center.)

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