Letter to the editor: Helping Services for Northeast Iowa

To the editor:

Imagine haunting sights and sounds of horror continuing after Halloween has past.

For many over-the-counter and prescription drug abusers, hallucinations are just one of the many side effects that can and do occur.  When misused, these “legal” drugs are just as dangerous as illegal drugs.

Many parents do not realize that kids are getting high on over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications.  This behavior, also referred to as “pharming,” is easy to do and unexpected by parents.  These “party drugs” are readily available in their own medicine cabinets, at local retail outlets, online, or from family and friends.  

According to a survey done by Partners for a Drug-Free America:

• One in five teens has tried Vicodin, a powerful and addictive narcotic pain reliever.

• One in 10 has tried OxyContin, another prescription narcotic.

• One in 10 has used the stimulants Ritalin or Adderall for nonmedical purposes.

 • One in 11 teens has admitted to getting high on cough medications.

When OTC and prescription medications are taken in excessive quantities, in combinations with other drugs, or with the intent to get “high,” they are harmful.  Side effects may include hallucinations, heart failure, depression, seizures, nightmares, bleeding, organ damage, and even death.

It’s time to take action to stop over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse.  Monitor the inventory of medications in your home, keep drugs put away and/or hidden, properly dispose of unused medications, and encourage family members, friends, and your children’s friends’ parents to do the same.  In addition, talk with your children about the dangers of abusing legal and illegal drugs. If you want additional help in preventing OTC or prescription drug abuse, contact Julie Larson, 563-380-8426 or visit www.helpingservices.org/otc.

For 40 years, Helping Services for Northeast Iowa has been promoting the health and well-being of children and adults. We work to end domestic violence and child abuse; build healthy families, friendships, and relationships; and reinforce positive decision-making about alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. Staff provide presentations, research-based programs, trainings, and advocacy to work with community members in creating safe, nurturing, and healthy environments.

Julie Larson,

Helping Services for Northeast Iowa

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