By Dianne Smith
I am always so impressed by passion of people in the community who want Sandpoint to be a safe place to live, raise children and grow old.
One of the passionates, as I call them is Erica McCall with 7B Drug Free and the Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention. Preventing substance abuse is Erica’s passion and I think we would all agree that substance abuse free is what we would like for our community. I don’t know if everyone is aware of the problem that exists not just with adults but also our youth with prescription drug abuse and the impact on the community. In trying to provide that sense of community I think it is important to look at the risk to our youth through increased prescription drugs accessibility and what adults can do to help.
Have you heard of a “Pharm Party” or a “Skittles Party?” Youth bring a handful of prescription pills to a party that are either prescribed to them or that they have access to through family or friends. Maybe they are stealing them from grandma because she doesn’t take them regularly and she is forgetful and probably won’t notice. Or parents keep medications that they might use in the future but don’t really pay attention to the number of pills. They toss them in a bowl and anyone can grab a few of what could be a potentially lethal mix of medication.
Easy prevention is for adults to dispose of medications when they are no longer going to be taking them and to lock up medications that could be abused. Sad as it is, this includes cold medications and other over the counter medications. Coricidin Cold Medication is abused by taking multiple pills to get high and if you take enough you can hallucinate. This is true for many cough syrups also especially those with codeine. Yes, those who want to use will find a way but adults also don’t have to make it easy access.
Open communication with your teen that you hope they make good choices, be safe and stay substance free is important. Research supports that teenagers whose parents talk to them on a regular basis about the dangers of drug use are 42 percent less likely to abuse drugs than those whose parents don’t. Another step that parents can take for more insurance that your child will make wise decisions is to have regular discussions, especially before weekends and big events such as prom.
Idaho has one of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States. It is our responsibility as community members to try and provide as safe of a community as we can.
In a recent survey done of local high school students over 13% admitting to using prescription drugs not prescribed for them. By eliminating access through proper disposal or locking them up we decrease use. By having heartfelt discussions with teens about our hopes and expectations we continue to decrease use.
7B Drug Free has many resources on their web page to help parents become more informed and to facilitate discussions with youth.
Dianne Smith, LMFT is a licensed counselor who works with both children and adults. She has offices in Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint and can be reached at 951-440-0982.
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