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The next time your son or daughter heads out for the night, make sure they are educated in the potential dangers that they may encounter. America is facing an epidemic of deaths, specifically in teens, related to the recreational use of prescription medication. Prescription medication, when combined with the consumption of alcohol, has been linked to thousands of deaths and is becoming an increasingly troubling issue for today’s youth. As a parent it is important to educate your child on the dangers of not only drinking, but the combination of drinking with prescription medication, and why such practices should be avoided at all times. Education can mean the difference between a fun, sober night out with friends, and a night of deadly consequences.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one person dies from a drug overdose every nineteen minutes. In 2009, approximately 37,000 Americans died after overdosing on drugs, half involving prescription painkillers. The issue medical providers are facing, is the very same drugs they prescribe legitimately to their patients for certain ailments such as back or joint problems, may also lead to addiction and potentially fatal consequences. Prescription painkillers are respiratory depressants, which not only slow the breathing but also slow the blood delivery to the heart and other areas of the body. When these medications are combined with alcohol, another depressant, the effects could slow breathing so drastically that the individual may cease respiration altogether, causing death. Doctors point to communication regarding the effects of the drugs, and not the drugs themselves, as the main source of the problems. Doctors must make an effort to better communicate the potential side effects and addictive qualities of prescription medication, and educate those on the dangers of taking prescription medication that has not been specifically prescribed to you. Doctors alone cannot bear this responsibility, however, as many children are consuming prescription medication received from sources other than those prescribed by a doctor. Parents must ensure that they continue to educate their children on the dangers of prescription medication and use education as a means of deterrence.

As a parent, the best way to prevent your child from complications with prescription drugs is through open communication. Although talks such as these can be difficult for both parents and children, it is important that your children know that you care about their well being and that they understand the inherent dangers in the choices they may make. Being informed, and available to your children, is the first step towards combating potential drug complications.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard and Norfolk Injuryboard as a pro bono service.

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