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I am a big believer in not hiding tough realities from my girls but I have been struggling with this one - how to prepare kids to face prescription drugs. I am excited to partner with LifeInCheck to spread the word about where to deposit leftover prescription drugs. Click here to visit the website to learn more and to find a LifeInCheck Drug Disposal Location near you.
I don't have the news on often at our house but sometimes after dinner (make my Horseradish Kale Salmon Patties for dinner one night by the way!), the national news is echoing in the living room with phrases like "drug epidemic" and "opioid crisis" and "another young overdose." My kids, just like yours, are smart. They hear these things and they have questions. Lots of questions. I would rather tell them what I know instead of them learning from their friends.
I was raised in an amazing family. I was taught right from wrong. My dad was (and still is) a big believer in working hard for what you want in life. My mom always had amazing dinners for us - like homemade pasta with her amazing sauce or my Grandma's Spanish Rice. She let us have sleepovers, she surprised us after school with special homemade treats, she read us books before bed. My childhood was great and I know that I was very blessed. This is me loving some homemade spaghetti.
Later on in my school years, I saw some drugs but I was never really tempted. In graduate school, I started suffering from migraine headaches. I went to a neurologist who questioned my intentions and thought that I was just there seeking pain pills. I had no idea what she was alluding to. All I knew was that I wanted my headaches to go away. Thankfully, I looked at my diet and lifestyle and overtime connected my migraines to too much Diet Coke consumption, lack of quality sleep and not eating the right foods. I was so upset with that neurologist - how dare she think I was just looking to score some pain pills?
When I was 25 years old, I had nasal polyp surgery (Google that here if you want - basically, I couldn't breathe well) and I was given my first prescription of Oxycontin. I was in heaven.
Now, I will admit here that I could immediately see how people get hooked to these pills. One side effect I could not handle - not being able to go to the bathroom. Constipation makes me angry. Yep, that was all it took for me to stop. Regular bathroom visits are really important to this girl. However, still to this day I can understand how addicting these pain pills are. They made me feel amazing. I felt happy. Nothing hurt. I was numb.
I am no expert in drug addiction. No expert at all. All I know is that if a girl like me could easily rationalize taking one or two extra pills, I can understand their power and how their use could easily spin out of control.
As a mother, I have a responsibility. I have a duty to talk to my girls at a young age about drugs. I have a responsibility to tell them about life's challenges and prescription drug use is a real problem right now in our community and really everywhere.
Here are my non-expert tips on how to talk to kids about prescription drugs:
- Start talking when they are young. Yes, my youngest is 5 and we already talk about drugs. Again, I am no expert, but I do know that the more I talk about these tough subjects with my kids the easier it gets. Start crazy young and keep it going. Don't be afraid to use big words like overdose and opioids, etc. Kids need to know the real words.
- Listen and answer their questions. My girls ask so many questions. As a true introvert, I love quiet. Sometimes, answering 20 questions is exhausting and I get lazy and I answer with a quick "not right now" response. When kids ask tough questions, find the time to answer them. They deserve your attention on this. If you don't talk to them when they are young, they will find out some other way by someone else.
- Don't sugar coat it. I tell my girls the truth about my experience with prescription drugs. I told them that sometimes we do need to take an Advil when our head hurts or we have a fever. However, you have to know when to stop. We have regular conversations about finding other ways to help with pain. I also tell my girls that they get one body and they have to take care of it. I try my hardest to show them how I make exercise and healthy eating a regular part of my day. Being a great example to our kids is our biggest responsibility.
- Tell them where prescription drugs could be and show them the bottles. Grandma may have them in her house. Pap keeps some Advil in his garage. Remind them that these medications are dangerous and that they are not for kids. Explain to kids how there is a place for prescription medications but they are not to be taken in excess. Talk about addiction. Have these tough conversations.
- Schedule time to talk. Put this date on your calendar and schedule a conversation with your kids - Saturday, October 27th 2018 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
- Show kids where leftover prescription drugs are meant to go. Tell your kids that there are "special places" where unused medications are supposed to go. Unfortunately, the way people dispose of unused medications today takes many forms, from flushing down the toilet or pouring in the drain, to throwing in the garbage, or worse. More often than not, the end result is damage to our environment, drug diversion or the drug being abused by others. In an effort to assist in reducing these issues and bringing awareness to the massive opioid crisis that is plaguing many families, LifeInCheck created a Drug Disposal program that provides consumers with a safe option to discard their unused or outdated prescription medications in secure receptacles located across the US. Once you visit the website, simply enter in your City and State or Zip Code and the closest receptacle will be listed. It is really easy!
The LifeInCheck Drug Disposal receptacles look this this photo.
Some alarming statistics:
- According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately fifty-four million Americans over the age of 12 have used prescription medications for non-medical reasons at least once in their lifetime.
- 197 Americans die every day from a drug overdose. Source: National Center for Health Statistics
- Each day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for not using prescription opioids as directed. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- 77% of opioid prescription medications taken by new users are obtained from a friend or relative. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- 62% of teens who admit taking medication for non-medical reasons say they get drugs from medicine cabinets in their homes.
How to use the Drug Disposal Receptacle:
- Pull to open drawer
- Place medications inside
- Close the drawer
Discreet, safe, and responsible drug disposal is critical in the fight against the opioid crisis.
Together, we can help educate the next generation about prescription drugs. Our kids deserve to know the truth and they deserve to hear these tough truths from us. You can do this.
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