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Many young people think prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs because they are prescribed by a physician, dispensed by a pharmacist, and manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future study, prescription drugs are the second-most abused category of drugs, after marijuana. Kids who learn about the dangers of drug use early and often are less likely to develop addiction than those who do not receive these critical messages at home.

Let your child know you appreciate their questions and you’re glad he/she feels they can talk to you. Here are some talking points to consider discussing with your child:

  • Prescription drugs are only legal for the person for whom it’s prescribed.
  • Prescription drugs can be extremely dangerous when they are used by someone else or even used in a way they were not prescribed. They can even be life-threatening if they are used in certain amounts or combined with alcohol or another drug.
  • Abuse of prescription drugs can be just as addictive and dangerous (even fatal) as the abuse of illegal street drugs. In fact, some of those “hardcore” illegal street drugs are made of the same ingredients as prescription drugs. For instance, heroin and oxycodone are both opioids derived from a common root: poppy.

Remember, it is adults’ responsibility to dispose of prescription drugs safely. See Linn County Medication Drop Boxes for safe, local drop-off sites.

Download the Parent Talk Kit for more ideas on talking to your kids about prescription drug misuse.

Adapted from The Partnership for and SAMHSA