Drug Diversion and Abuse: Not in My House

AUGUST 01, 2008
Cmdr John Burke

John Burke, commander of the Warren County, Ohio, drug task force and retired commander of the Cincinnati Police Pharmaceutical Diversion Squad, is a 40-year veteran of law enforcement. Cmdr Burke also is the current president of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. For information, he can be reached by e-mail at , via the Web site www.rxdiversion.com, or by phone at 513-336-0070.

It is no secret that a significant rise in teenage abuse of prescription drugs has been occurring over the past several years. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has said that more than 2 million teens abused prescription drugs in 2007. In addition, 2500 teens per day initiate prescription drug abuse, and pharmaceuticals are now the number-1 drug of choice for 12- to 13-year-olds in this country.

It also is no secret that a very substantial portion of those drugs abused by teenagers are coming from our country's medicine cabinets. Abbott Labs and The Partnership for a Drug Free America have combined their resources to produce an exciting new Web site directed to anyone in our country who would like to know more about this ever-increasing problem, especially the parents of teenagers.

The Web site, www.notinmyhouse. com, was born recently, and it hits right to the heart of the problem of the illegal use of prescription drugs by our youth. It begins with an ongoing video of teenagers removing pharmaceuticals from a medicine cabinet and moves on to highlight 3 important steps.

Monitor: Parents should take an inventory of their current medications. This not only includes what is on hand, but taking a count of the medication. Sidebar points tell the reader about signs and symptoms of pharmaceutical abuse.

Secure: Place your prescription drugs in a place where only you will know their location or in a locked container.

Dispose: Properly dispose of unneeded or outdated prescriptions by mixing them with undesirable products like kitty litter. Also, remove identifying labels from prescription vials to prevent others from obtaining information that could lead to unauthorized refills or other diversion.

Perhaps one of the most important messages built into all of the steps is to remind parents to educate other parents, grandparents, and those individuals in homes that their teenager frequents about the potential dangers of prescription drug abuse.

One of the segments of the Web site offers tips on how to talk to your teenager about prescription drug abuse and the current lingo used by youth when talking about pharmaceuticals or OTC medication. These tips offer valuable information on how to get started talking to your teen about this issue and stress that saying nothing can be the equivalent of permission to the adolescent in your home.

The reality of teen prescription drug abuse is brought to the forefront in this Web site when the father and sister of an abusing teenager in Tulsa, Oklahoma, talk about the overdose death of their son and brother. Prescription drugs and OTC cough syrup combined in this instance to create a tragedy that this family must live with forever. Also included in this final segment are experts in the field of addiction and psychology who talk about the problems of teen prescription drug abuse, with a review of the 3 steps to take to reduce adolescent diversion.

In these times of teen abuse of prescription drugs and our youth finding many of them right in their own home or the home of their friends and family members, this Web site is an outstanding educational tool for millions of Americans. Take a few minutes, go to www.notinmyhouse.com, learn all you can about the issue, and then spread the word. It just might prevent a tragedy in your home, a friend or family member's home, or even a perfect stranger's house. Regardless, it is a positive step that all of us can take to reduce teen prescription drug abuse.