Teens and Drugs

Pills_in_handPAINFUL TRUTH

Prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the U.S. “In South Orange County, the three most common drugs teens are experimenting with for recreational purposes are oxycodone and hydrocodone (narcotic pain killers) and methadone, a drug used to help heroin addicts kick their addiction,” says Dr. Winkelmann. “A percentage of kids are being prescribed narcotics for their own injuries, but many find them in the medicine cabinets of friends, family members and even in their own homes,” she says. “They have “pharming” parties, where everyone brings their pills, put them in a bucket and take handfuls. It’s pretty scary how creative these kids are.”

STRAIGHT TALK

Talking to your child early about this dangerous and potentially deadly problem is critical, says Dr. Winklemann. “I think middle school is certainly the time to have the talk,” she says. If you need help, there are resources available. “The documentaries, ‘Overtaken’ and ‘Behind the Orange Curtain’ are very good. Both address this issue specifically for our area.

PARENTAL DISPENSING ADVISED
Parents should take precautions when it comes to having prescription drugs in the home, says Dr. Winkelmann. Some tips:

    • Make sure parents are in charge of dispensing medication
    • Set clear rules about teens taking the right amount at the right time
    • Take care to understand the purposes and side effects, using the medications as a last resort, especially for pain control
    • Keep medications in a secure location

DOWN THE DRAIN
It’s important to dispose of prescription drugs properly and that means NOT flushing them down the toilet, says Dr. Winkelmann. “Crush them, mix with coffee grounds or cat litter, put them in an empty can or bag and throw them in the trash,” she says.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG EDUCATION
Created by CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital nurses, Karen Caiozzo, Dottie Tagan and Chris Venable and championed by Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann, the physician-to-physician prescription drug education program informs the staff, suggests doctors consider decreasing pill  counts to only what’s absolutely necessary and ensures that parents and teens know about the hazards of having prescription drugs in the home.

FAST FACTS

      • The peak age for prescription drug experimentation: 12 to 13 Years Old
      • The number of pediatric patients admitted to CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital for overdoses (5/2009-5/2010): 61
      • Percentage of teens who have said they have taken drugs without a prescription: 20 %

View the full feature on Teens and Drugs

Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann
Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann
CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital

PHYSICIAN FOCUS: DR. Jacqueline Winkelmann

Dr. Winkelmann is currently Chief of Staff Elect at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital. She attended the University
of Illinois College of Medicine and completed her residency training at Hope Children’s Hospital in Chicago, where she held the position of Pediatric Chief Resident.

Dr. Winkelmann’s philosophy of care: “I really truly believe that taking care of children is a partnership between parents, nurses, doctors and the patients themselves.”

EDUCATION:
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS:
General Pediatrics

More about Dr. Winkelmann

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on December 17, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Oct. 26 – Do Your Part in Helping Kids Prevent Abusing Household Medications

Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication abuse continues to be one of the fastest-growing problems among teens and young adults. This includes kids who would never dream of using illegal drugs. One reason is the easy availability of these medications. Most of them are free and accessible from the medicine cabinets of friends, family, or even their own home.

Check out these tips to help you and your family take charge of medications in your home, including a list of local sites where you can drop off unwanted medications on Oct. 26:

• Talk to your teen about prescription and OTC drug abuse. Be sure your teen understands that buying or using prescription medication without a doctor’s order is dangerous — and illegal. A warm, open conversation – where kids are encouraged to talk about their feelings and their self-esteem is bolstered – encourages kids to come forward with questions and concerns.

• Take charge of all medications. Keep your family’s medications in a secure location. Set clear rules about taking the correct dosage at the right time. Ask friends and family to keep their prescription and OTC medications in a safe place, too.

• Explain the purpose of each prescribed or OTC medication, including possible side effects. Keep in mind that although you may not have prescription medications in your home, your child’s friend or family may. The most commonly used prescription drugs fall into three categories – Opioids (Examples: Vicodin, Demerol); Central Nervous System Depressants (Valium, Xanax); Stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall). Stress that it is both illegal and extremely dangerous to share any kind of medications.

• Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents. Make sure you are all on the same page when it comes to drugs, alcohol and medications.

 • Check with your teen’s school. Are they including prescription and OTC medications when teaching about substance abuse?

• Discard all old and unneeded medications. Mix discarded medications with either used coffee grounds or kitty litter, add hot water, then place in the garbage. Never flush them.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) along with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is holding a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, on Sat., Oct. 26, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This free and anonymous service will give the public an opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous, expired, and unwanted prescription drugs. For more information, call 714-647-4133. Below is a list of collection sites:

• Aliso Viejo:  OCSD South Sub-Station, 11 Journey Aliso Viejo, Calif., 92656
• Laguna Hills:  Laguna Hills City Hall, 24035 El Toro Rd. Laguna Hills, Calif., 92653
• Laguna Niguel:  Laguna Niguel City Hall, 30111 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel, Calif., 92677
• Lake Forest: City Hall, 25550 Commercentre, Lake Forest, Calif., 92630
• Mission Viejo:  Mission Viejo City Hall, 200 Civic Center, Mission Viejo, Calif., 92691
• Orange: City of Orange Civic Center Parking Lot, at Almond Avenue and Center Street (across from St. John’s Lutheran Church)
• Rossmoor:  Rush Park, 3021 Blume Drive, Rossmoor, Calif., 90720
• San Clemente:  San Clemente Police Services, 100 Ave. Presidio, San Clemente, Calif., 92672
• San Juan Capistrano: San Juan Capistrano City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 92675
• Yorba Linda: Yorba Linda Community Center, 4501 Casa Loma Ave., Yorba Linda, Calif., 92886

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Synthetic Drug Popular Among Teens – What Parents Should Know

A relatively new street drug known as Spice (also called Potpourri and other names), remains popular among teens, warn law enforcement and health officials. The effects of this harmful substance, sold in appealing silvery or bright packaging, are very serious and can even lead to death in some cases. We spoke to Deputy Matson of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Community Programs Division/Drug Use is Life Abuse, who shared his expertise on what parents can do if they suspect their child is using this or any other drugs.

Q: What is “Spice” or “Potpourri?”
A: This is a relatively new synthetic drug that gained major popularity in 2009 and 2010 before it was temporarily banned by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) the following year. It has many names that include: Spice, K-2, Fake Weed, Black Mamba, Potpourri, and more. It is made up of dried plant material which is then sprayed with a synthetic chemical compound that produces effects similar to THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets users “high.” Spice is typically smoked, although it can also be made into a tea.

Q: What are the risks involved?
A: This drug is largely produced by unregulated businesses or individuals located outside the U.S., or sometimes in private residences within our borders. The long term effects of Spice on the human body are largely unknown at this time. However, the short term effects of Spice include:

• Altered perceptions
• Harsh cough after smoking
• Hazy feeling afterward (hung over)
• Vomiting
• Increased blood pressure and heart rate
• Reduced blood supply to the heart
• Heart attacks
There are new cases coming to light that link the use of this drug to kidney failure.

Q: How are these cigarettes/drugs being marketed to kids?
A: Spice is easily accessible, and most often found, through the internet or in head shops – retail outlets specializing in drug paraphernalia. The sites that sell Spice often market it as a “safe, natural, and legal” high. The first two claims are easily refuted while the third remains a bit of a gray area. To teens looking for a new drug to experiment with, this can be a very appealing alternative to marijuana.

Q: What steps can parents take if they suspect or find that their child (or his friends) are using Spice?
A: There are several things to look for if you think your child may be abusing Spice. If they have bloodshot eyes with dilated pupils and strange, altered moods this could be a sign of Spice or other drugs. One dead giveaway is the silvery, plastic packaging that the drug is typically sold in. Because Spice is many times obtained online, another thing you can do is check your child’s internet browser history. There are also laboratory tests available to detect Spice. These can range from fifty to eighty dollars.

If you think your child is abusing Spice, or any other drug, don’t ignore it and pretend that it will go away on its own. You know your child best, and the best way to confront them about their drug use. There is a great intervention help page available through the DEA. Please visit: http://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com/help/intervene.html

Q: Where can parents go for more information?  
A: There are many online sources available to parents. Below are just a few:
• www.justice.gov/dea
• www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com
• www.drugabuse.gov
• www.duila.org
Parents are encouraged to call Drug Use Is Life Abuse with any further questions 714-647-4593.

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What Parents Must Know About Prescription, OTC Drug Abuse

The source of our country’s fastest-growing drug problem may be as close as the home medicine cabinet. More people now die from prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication abuse than from cocaine, heroin and ecstasy combined.

And that includes teens and young adults who would never dream of using illegal drugs. One reason is the easy availability of these medications. In fact most of them are free and accessible from the medicine cabinets of friends, relatives – or even in their own home.

Teens and young adults often raid their parents’ medicine cabinets before going to “pharm parties,” where a pocketful of pills is the price of admission. The pills that go into a bowl for sharing can be a mixture of anything, including medications for pain, high blood pressure or depression.

During 2009 and 2010, 61 local teens were admitted into the CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit as a result of overdose on prescription and over-the-counter medications, illegal substances and alcohol, as well as combination mixes of these substances. CHOC nurses noticed and decided to find out why. As part of their investigation, they reviewed the pain medication prescriptions that hospital physicians were writing for patients undergoing minor procedures. They discovered that these prescriptions were often written for larger amounts than actually needed.

Our nurses started a community health campaign that reached out to physicians and nurses in addition to local parents and teens. Part of their goal was to reduce the availability of excess pain medication sitting in home medicine cabinets within the local community.

“When we showed our physicians how many kids were being admitted and what they were taking, they were very surprised,” said Karen Caiozzo, R.N. “More than 90 percent said they would change how they write prescriptions as a result.”

CHOC nurses also developed a hospital form tracking how many pain pills are actually taken during the 24 hours prior to discharge. This tool helps physicians better estimate the amount of pain medication actually needed later at home.

Now our nurses are sharing their results with the rest of the country. This past spring, they were invited to give poster presentations to both the Society of Pediatric Nursing, in Houston, and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), in San Antonio. Additionally, this presentation has become an online continuing education course on the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, a website for certified nurses and nurse practitioners across the country.

What You Can Do Now

  • Talk to your teen about prescription and OTC drug abuse. Be sure your teen understands that buying or using prescription medication without a doctor’s order is dangerous — and illegal.
  • Take charge of all medications. Keep your family’s medications in a secure location. Set clear rules about taking the correct dosage at the right time. Ask friends and family to keep their prescription and OTC medications in a safe place, too.
  • Explain the purpose of each prescribed or OTC medication, including possible side effects. Stress that it is both illegal and dangerous to share these medications with friends.
  • Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents. Make sure you are all on the same page when it comes to drugs, alcohol and medications.
  • Check with your teen’s school. Are they including prescription and OTC medications when teaching about substance abuse?
  • Discard all old and unneeded medications. Mix discarded medications with either used coffee grounds or kitty litter, add hot water, then place in the garbage. Never flush them.

“You’ll be amazed when you look through your own medicine cabinet,” Karen Caiozzo, R.N., said. “People tend to save drugs thinking they might need them later and forget about them, but that’s where 70 percent of these abused medications are coming from. It’s a scary statistic.”

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