LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Talking to teens about prescription drug abuse

To the editor:

Every day, 2,500 teenagers nationwide use a prescription drug to get high for the first time. They’re accessing these drugs in the comfort of home; it can be as easy as opening a cupboard, drawer, or medicine cabinet. In Northern Michigan, this problem is real, it’s growing, and it’s dangerous.

Since 2000, over 550 overdose and drug poisoning deaths have been recorded in northern and central Michigan. The majority of these deaths are related to prescription drugs. A large part of this problem is the misconception that prescription drugs are safer than illicit drugs. Prescription drugs are not safer than illicit drugs. These are powerful drugs that, when abused, can be just as dangerous as street drugs. A prescription drug isn’t safe if it wasn’t prescribed for you. If you’re taking a drug that was not meant for you, you are essentially abusing that drug. If you know of someone that is abusing prescription drugs, talk to them about the dangers.

You also can help prevent prescription drug abuse by storing drugs in a safe, secure place, monitoring your prescription bottles and disposing of expired or unneeded drugs properly.

I personally encourage you to talk to the teens and young adults in your life about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These are powerful drugs that, when abused, can be just as dangerous as street drugs. Let’s all take an active step in the prevention efforts of prescription drug abuse in our communities. We need to protect our families and communities against this growing public health concern.

District Health Department 10 is partnering with Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Services (NMSAS) in Lake, Mason and Oceana counties to provide prevention efforts and community education on prescription drug abuse.

If interested in learning more or to request a presentation in Lake County, please call: Holly Joseph 745-4663 ext. 8558. Learn more at DrugFreeNorthernMichigan.com. Find us on Facebook at Drug Free Northern Michigan - Be the solution.

James Wilson, D.O., MPH

Medical Director

District Health Department 10