Mom/School Nurse: End Medicine Abuse

Mom/School Nurse: End Medicine Abuse

Teen medicine abuse is a serious issue and one that we, as parents, have the power to stop. Education is the key. I have been a nurse for nearly 24 years and a school nurse for nearly 15 years. I started my nursing career in the intensive care unit, which is where I was first exposed to teen substance abuse and became interested in helping prevent it.

As a mom and school nurse in Delaware, my top priority is to keep my students healthy and ready to learn.  I’ve seen the pressures and temptations that kids face today, how risky behaviors like abuse of prescription drugs (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine can quickly spread within a community and how profoundly such abuse affects teens and their families.

I knew I needed to bring attention to this critical health issue after I became aware that some of my high-school and middle-school students were abusing medicine. Unfortunately, many kids today shared a widespread misconception that abusing medicine is somehow “safer” than abusing illegal drugs.

According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, roughly one out of three teenagers knows someone who has abused an OTC cough medicine to get high. Preventative measures are crucial – it is so important to take action before medicine abuse becomes a problem in your home or community.

As educators – teachers, principals and school nurses – we spend a great deal of time around teens every day and have a better-than-average understanding of their culture and social patterns. Because we are on the front lines, we have a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the risks of abusing prescription drugs and over-the-counter cough medicine and to influence our students to make healthy choices for themselves.

“Home to Home Room” and “Smart Moves, Smart Choices” are two excellent resources that can be easily incorporated into lesson plans. The tool kits enable middle schools and high schools to address teen medicine abuse through school assemblies, curricula and year-round activities. These educational programs also encourage parents, educators and the school nurse to team up to help prevent and address teen medicine abuse.

Get more information on these and other resources for educators.