Rx & OTC Drugs: Another Risk Some Teens Take


The number of Tiverton teens who report using prescription (Rx) or over-the-counter medicine (OTC) for non-medical reasons is significantly smaller than the teens who report using marijuana and alcohol. That's good news. But 3.75% of THS students did report using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes during the past 30 days, according to the most recent Tiverton Youth Survey (2014), which exposes those teens to physical, neurological, and emotional harm.

Prevention Tips for Parents

When you talk to your teens, keep in mind that many teens, users or not, have the dangerous misperception that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs because they are prescribed by a doctor. We need to correct that misperception! Here are some prevention tips shown to protect kids from the harms associated with non-medical use of Rx and OTC drugs:

  • Educate yourself and your teens. Check out the resources for parents and teens below. Knowing the facts is a great protective factor that reduces the risk of Rx drug abuse.

  • 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. Importantly, it is school policy in Tiverton that if your teen needs to take prescription drugs during the school day, they must be stored and administered by the school nurse. Teens should not carry Rx drugs on their person nor leave them in their lockers. It's not a matter of "trust." It's a health and safety precaution!

  • Safeguard your medicine. Most teens who report non-medical use of Rx drugs say they get them from family medicine cabinets — or those of grandparents and friends. You can eliminate that source. Keep prescription medicine in a secure place, count and monitor the number of pills you have and lock them up — and ask your friends and family members to do the same.

  • Properly dispose of medications. The Tiverton Prevention Coalition has a MedReturn Dropbox located at the town police headquarters. Safely deposit unused Rx drugs, 24/7, no questions asked. You'll make sure your medicine cabinet isn't a source of drugs for teens.

Resources for Parents and Teens: The more we know, the better.

Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown the important role that parents play in preventing their children from starting to use drugs. Check out these five questions, developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon. You'll find some effective ways to make sure your teens understand the risks associated with using someone else's medicine. Click here
"Shatter The Myths" is a great resource for teens. It answers teens' most frequently asked questions about drugs and abuse with scientific facts and engaging images. This free booklet, available online, covers several drug categories, including Rx and OTC drugs. Shatter the Myths Booklet
The Medicine Abuse Project is a five-year action campaign that aims to prevent half a million teens from abusing medicine by the year 2017. The Medicine Abuse Project website includes information about prevention of prescription drug abuse, painkiller addiction, and over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse. It also lists medicine abuse facts and includes comprehensive information about the most abused prescription drugs. More

Adderall and Ritalin: Caution

The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Study, an annual survey tracking teen drug abuse, shows an increase among high school seniors who abuse drugs typically prescribed for ADHD. They're taking these drugs as "study aids". Check out — and share with your teen — the consequences of non-medical use of ADHD drugs at drugbuse.com. More


Dispose Meds Safely 24/7

Use the free, secure Dropbox at the Tiverton Police Station.