Par­ents warned to lock up med­i­ca­tion from teens

Thefts can lead to drug ad­dic­tion: MD

Times Colonist - - Life - CAMILLE BAINS

VAN­COU­VER — Teenagers who steal pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion from a medicine cabi­net at home may be at risk of be­com­ing ad­dicted to drugs, says a fam­ily doc­tor who treats chronic sub­stance use.

Dr. Wil­liam Barakett said par­ents should lock up their med­i­ca­tion and re­turn un­used drugs to a phar­macy for dis­posal.

Par­ents must en­sure their teens aren’t pock­et­ing drugs to mask an emo­tional dis­or­der such as ADHD, he said.

They also need to take a “good hard look” at whether there’s a fam­ily his­tory of ad­dic­tion, said Barakett, an ad­vi­sory coun­cil mem­ber for Drug Free Kids Canada.

He re­cently tes­ti­fied be­fore a House of Com­mons com­mit­tee hear­ing on mar­i­juana and said many of his pa­tients be­gan smok­ing pot as young as 12 be­fore steal­ing their par­ents’ med­i­ca­tion.

Barakett told the com­mit­tee the fed­eral govern­ment’s plan to le­gal­ize recre­ational cannabis should in­clude ex­ten­sive pub­lice­d­u­ca­tion cam­paigns about the risks of pot con­sump­tion on ado­les­cent brains.

The mes­sage about the dan­gers of teens us­ing med­i­ca­tion also needs to get out, es­pe­cially dur­ing the cur­rent opi­oid epi­demic, he said from Knowl­ton, Que.

“If there are opi­oids left in the medicine chest at home, ad­ven­tur­ous kids are go­ing to start to play with them,” Barakett said, adding self-med­i­cat­ing teens who de­velop an ad­dic­tion to opi­oid painkillers might seek the drugs else­where.

“I’ve had kids who are ad­dicted to opi­oids in pill form and I ask them: ‘Where do you ob­tain it?’ Some of them have told me: ‘We hang around old folks’ homes.’ ”

Se­niors who no longer need their drugs have been known to sell them to teens for ex­tra cash, Barakett said.

Teens buy­ing drugs on the street are tak­ing a huge risk be­cause many sub­stances are laced with the pow­er­ful opi­oid painkiller fen­tanyl, Barakett said.

A B.C. Coro­ners Ser­vice re­port is­sued Thurs­day said 17 peo­ple between the ages of 10 and 18 died of sus­pected over­doses between Jan­uary and Au­gust this year. That’s up from 12 deaths last year and five deaths in all of 2015.

The re­port said the opi­oid painkiller fen­tanyl was de­tected in 81 per cent of all deaths in the prov­ince so far this year.

Marc Paris, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Drug Free Kids Canada, sug­gested par­ents use a lock box or other se­cure place to stow away opi­oids and drugs such as Tylenol with codeine that they might be keep­ing for oc­ca­sional pain.

It’s also im­por­tant for par­ents to have on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tions with their kids about drugs, he said.

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