Brent Huff premiered his first documentary, Behind The Orange Curtain, at the Newport Beach Film Festival in Southern California. The film details the lives of 15 families in Orange County, CA with teens who fell prey to prescription drug abuse. Huff chose the topic for his addiction documentary after a close friend’s daughter lost her 17-year-old friend. She died from an overdose of prescription medications. After much research, he discovered many families in the area had also lost children to prescription drug abuse. Furthermore, even more had children with substance use disorder.
According to the addiction documentary’s website, “Prescription drug use, abuse, addiction, and death is epidemic in the United States. Rx drugs like OxyContin, Xanax, and Opana are the latest “party drugs”. Kids are experimenting as young as age 10 and many find their first dose right in the family medicine cabinet. Heroin use and addiction is also epidemic because users switch from prescription drugs to heroin because it is simply just cheaper and produces the same high. No one is exempt. This is a very real epidemic. It’s in every city, county, and state. It’s in your backyard! ”
Teen Prescription Drug Abuse
Huff found that this type of drug problem is a completely different beast than anything parents have faced in past generations. First, the drug is available in many homes in America. Teens go to doctors for prescriptions of OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, or other addictive medications. They might claim bogus reasons. Adding fuel to the fire is the issue that a prescription drug problem is a relatively silent addiction that is very hard for parents to detect.
Most people assume that the parents and their children were to some extent emotionally estranged from each other. However, the documentary shows the families were actually quite close knit. Huff explains the parents were watching out for the symptoms of the typical type of drug abuse they were aware of from the past. “They were looking out for smoking pot, drinking, Ecstasy,” says Huff.
However, unlike pot, prescriptions have no odor or telltale paraphernalia. Prescriptions carry less obvious behaviors. This type of problem is much more insidious. Teens who try it usually have a false sense of security regarding the prescription’s safety. This makes the problem even more potentially deadly.
How to Protect Teens from Prescription Drug Abuse
In Huff’s opinion, he feels the most important factor is knowing the people your kids hang out with on a regular basis. The best prevention for teens is having friends who are clean and sober. The other precaution Huff feels is a necessity is discussing the pitfalls of drugs use. This includes prescriptions, from a young age. He believes 10 years old is not too early: “First graders are going to school with fifth and sixth graders and learning from them.”
What age do you think is appropriate to start discussing the potential dangers of drug and alcohol use with your kids? Let us know what has worked for your family below.
Image courtesy of Chris Kousouros for WTYSL.