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Prescription Drug and Opiate Abuse

        Addiction can happen to anyone,any family, at any time.
Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem among people of all ages. Prescription drug abuse is defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2011), as “the intentional use of a medication without a prescription; in a way other than as prescribed; or for experience or feeling it causes.” 
Popular medications abused are those that treat pain, attention deficit disorders, and anxiety. These drugs include, but are not limited to, Oxycontin or Vicodin, Adderall or Ritalin, and Valium or Xanax. 

Many people incorrectly think that these drugs are safe simply because they are prescribed by doctors, while other other abuse prescription drugs because they can easily get them at home, school, or the workplace.  
Prescription drug abuse is dangerous and it can cause organ damage, heart failure, seizures, other serious health problems, and even death. 

Prescription Drug Abuse among Youth

Young people are at high risk of prescription drug abuse, and prescription drug abuse is an increasing problem among youth. In 2012, 14.8% of high school seniors nationwide reported using prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes (NIDA, 2012). 

Adolescents as young as 12 years of age have greater access to prescription drugs than illicit drugs. Adolescents may obtain prescription drugs from friends, family, or neighbors (NYSDOH, 2013). 

What You Can Do to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse 

Discuss the dangers with your teen and other family members. Be sure to tell your family members that just because drugs are prescribed by a doctor doesn't make them safe — especially if they were prescribed to someone else or if they are already taking other prescription medications.

Properly dispose of medications. 
  • Check the label or patient information guide for disposal instructions — don't flush the drugs down the toilet unless it says to do so or your pharmacist advises you to do so. 
  • You can ask your pharmacist or local trash and recycling service if there's a medicine take-back program that accepts unused medications.  The Columbia County Sheriff's Office usually has "Medication Take Back Days" twice a year to collect unused, unwanted prescription drugs.  There will be a take back day on April 26 from 10 AM to 2 PM. They will have two locations. One at the Public Safety Building (85 Industrial Tract, Hudson) and the other will be at the Hillsdale Sub-station on Rte 23.
  • You can also put unused drugs in your household trash. But before throwing them out, remove them from the container and mix them in a sealed plastic bag with used coffee grounds, used kitty litter or another undesirable substance. 
  • Before tossing the container, remove the label and cross out identifying information.
Set rules about your child's prescription medications. 
  • Let your teen know that it's not OK to share medications with others — or to take medications prescribed for others. 
  • Emphasize how important it is to take the prescribed dose of medication and talk with the doctor before making changes.
Keep your prescription drugs safe. Keep track of quantities and keep them in a locked medicine cabinet (Please see the flyer attached below: "Is Your Medicine Cabinet Safe?")

Make sure your child isn't ordering drugs online. Some websites sell counterfeit and dangerous drugs that may not require a prescription.
Resources and Information


Physical Signs

  • Small pupils
  • Decreased respiratory rate
  • Non responsive state - drowsiness
  • Loss or increase in appetite; unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Intense flu-like symptoms such as: Nausea, vomiting, sweating, shakes of hands, feet or head, large pupils

Behavioral Signs

    • Change in attitude/personality
    • Avoiding contact with family
    • Change in friends; new hangouts
    • Change in activities, hobbies or sports
    • Drop in grades or work performance
    • Isolation and secretive behavior
    • Moodiness, irritability, nervousness, giddiness
    • Stealing
    • Wearing long sleeved shirts out of season

Advanced Warning Signs

    • Missing medications
    • Burnt or missing spoons/bottle caps
    • Syringes
    • Small bags with powder residue
    • Missing shoe laces/belts

An Overview of the 
Prescription Drug Abuse Problem in the US

Overview of The Prescription Drug Abuse Problem

Educating yourself about some of the basic facts regarding addiction and what you can do to help prevent the spread of substance abuse can be critical to helping your own loved one or a member of your community.

Key Steps to Prevention

Good Samaritan Law
  • Some individuals may fear that police will respond to a 911 call and there will be criminal charges for themselves or for the person who overdosed. Those fears should NEVER keep anyone from calling 911 immediately. It may be a matter of life or death.

    In September 2011, the 911 Good Samaritan Law went into effect to address fears about a police response to an overdose. This law provides significant legal protection against criminal charges and prosecution for possession of controlled substances, as well as possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. This protection applies to both the person seeking assistance in good faith, as well as to the person who has overdosed. Class A-1 drug felonies, as well as sale or intent to sell controlled substances, are not covered by the law.

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2011a, December). Topics in Brief: Prescription drug abuse. Retrieved from
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Drug Facts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction. Retrieved from
  • New York State Department of Health. (2013, May). Misuse of prescription drugs: Vital questions and answers for parents. Retrieved from
Victoria McGahan,
Aug 1, 2017, 5:41 AM
Unknown user,
Jan 8, 2014, 9:45 AM