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Most teens have easy access to meds

U. MICHIGAN (US) — Three in four teens have unsupervised access to their prescription drugs at home, likely increasing the risk of overdose, substance abuse, and drug diversion.

For a recent study, researchers wanted to find out the level of teenagers’ access to their own medications, specifically pain, stimulant, anti-anxiety, and sedative drugs that are federally controlled.

Among those who said the storage of their prescribed medications was supervised, more than half described accessible locations, such as a cabinet or drawer in the kitchen or bathroom.


Some parents and guardians may not believe that their children would engage in nonmedical use and, therefore, do not take steps to secure prescription medications, Paula Ross-Durow says. (Credit: Daniel Oines/Flickr)

The findings are alarming, researchers say, given that the respondents were in the 8th and 9th grades with a mean age of 14.1 years.

“The lack of parental supervision and proper storage of medicines prescribed to adolescents may facilitate (their) nonmedical use of these medications, putting them at risk for poisoning or overdose,” says lead author Paula Ross-Durow, a research investigator at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan.

Without proper storage or supervision, teens might be more likely to give or sell them to others.

Published in the journal Adolescent Health, the five-year longitudinal study involved more than 500 adolescents, who with their parents’ consent, took part in interviews, responding to questions such as what medications were prescribed by a medical or dental professional, where in the home the drugs are stored, and whether access to these medications is supervised.

Some parents and guardians may not believe that their children would engage in nonmedical use and, therefore, do not take steps to secure prescription medications, Ross-Durow says.

“It is critical that clinicians educate parents and patients about the importance of proper storage and disposal of medications, particularly those with abuse potential.”

Source: University of Michigan

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