A recent study from the Partnership at DrugFree.org reported that approximately one-quarter of high school students in the United States admit to having abused prescription medications. To put this percentage in perspective, that’s a whopping 5 million teens. While many of these adolescents get the medications they abuse from their friends or the family medicine cabinet, it’s also becoming more and more common for teens to gain access to these medications via illegal online pharmacies. Many of these pharmacies have even been known to sell medications without a prescription and to knowingly sell to underage buyers.
What Is Your Teen Doing Online?
After you’ve taken measures to control the prescription medications in your home, it’s time to start controlling the sites your teen is accessing. You may be able to set up special software that blocks your teen’s access to illegal online pharmacies, though it’s important to understand that these software programs are not perfect and sometimes let the wrong sites through the cracks. Furthermore, many teens are so Internet savvy that they know how to get around blocking software. As such, it’s wise to regularly check the computer history on your teen’s computer. Of course, most teens know enough to delete their browsing histories when desired, so using a more intensive tracking program may prove helpful.
Where’s Your Credit Card?
Most online pharmacies only take payments via credit card, so if your teen doesn’t have access to a credit card, his or her access to these pharmacies and the medications they provide is greatly reduced. Make sure that you keep your credit cards secure at all times and that you closely monitor your credit card statements, inquiring about any unknown or unexplained charges with your card company. If you must give your teen access to a credit card, you may want to install a block on international purchases, since most online pharmacies operate overseas. And, of course, you should monitor all purchases made on a teen’s card as well.
Know the Warning Signs
In the end, it doesn’t really matter where or how your teen accesses prescription medications; all that matters is the fact that he or she may be using them. Even if you think you’ve taken all the “right” actions to guard against prescription drug access, be mindful of and watchful for the signs of prescription drug abuse in your teen. Things to be on the lookout for include:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Constricted or “pinpoint” pupils
- Lack of energy or, conversely, increased energy
- Loss of appetite, often accompanied by weight loss
- Paying less attention to grooming/personal hygiene
- New friends and/or avoiding old friends
- Mood swings
- Sudden trouble in school
If you notice these signs in your teen, it’s time to talk to him or her about the possibility of prescription drug use. If you come to the conclusion that a problem does exist, here at Newport Academy we offer professional help directed at getting your teenager back on the right track. Call now for more information.