By Julie Larson | 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.

The Research

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 ten has tried OxyContin, another prescription narcotic.
  • One in ten has used the stimulants Ritalin or Adderall for nonmedical purposes.
  • One in 11 teens has admitted to getting high on cough medications.


The Harm

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.  Some side effects may include hallucinations, heart failure, depression, seizures, nightmares, bleeding, organ damage, and even death.  

3 Ways You Can Prevent OTC and Prescription Drug Abuse

It’s time to take action to stop over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse.

  1. Monitor the inventory of medications in your home.
  2. 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.
  3. Talk with your youth about the dangers of abusing legal and illegal drugs.

If you want additional help in preventing OTC or prescription drug abuse, contact me at 563-380-8426.

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