Why focus on prescription drugs? Research shows that more deaths are now occurring each year from accidental drug overdose than from car accidents. Someone in the US dies EVERY 15 MINUTES from an accidental overdose. And nearly half of the drug overdose deaths are due to prescription drugs.
Parents are powerful influencers when it comes to our children’s attitudes and behaviors regarding alcohol, tobacco and the use of other drugs. Having ongoing conversations and sharing information on the dangers of substance use/abuse with our children is fundamental. It is also vitally important to make clear our expectations for them not to drink underage, smoke or use drugs. But it is not just what we say that matters. It is also what we DO. The behavioral choices our children see us make has the greatest impact on the lifestyle choices they make surrounding substances.
When it comes to the use of prescription drugs, what are your children learning from you? Do you role model respect for prescription drugs by locking up and monitoring your medicines, as encouraged by experts? Do you properly dispose of unused and unwanted medications? Have you made it clear, by example, that sharing prescription medications with others is dangerous and not okay?
If so, you are doing an incredible job, and we encourage you to keep up the great work! If not, it is important to remember that while prescription drugs have the ability to improve and save lives, they also have the potential to harm, and that they can be fatal if used improperly or by an unintended person. Role modeling the above behavioral choices are key in promoting family wellness and teaching our children respect for potentially harmful medications.
Another way to RESPECT the Rx is to ask your health care provider or pharmacist specific questions about your prescription medications, in order to avoid unintended harmful effects. The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy came up with the acronym RESPECT, as a way to help you remember those questions:
R. Reason: Why is this medication being prescribed for me?
E.Explain Usage: Should I take this medication regularly or as needed? What restrictions are there with food/alcohol/other medications?
S.Symptoms: When is it appropriate for me to take this medication (e.g., on a scale of 1-10 for pain severity)
P.Practitioners: Inform your doctor if you are seeing other healthcare providers and which pharmacy you use (you should only use one pharmacy).
E.Expected Effects: What effects can I expect from taking this medication? What precautions do I need to take while driving, operating machinery, etc.
C. Concerns with Controlled Substances: Is there addiction potential with my medication?
T. Time to Stop: When and how should I stop taking my medication? How should I store and dispose of it when I am done?
If the opportunity is there, take your son or daughter with you to your next doctor’s appointment, allowing him/her to observe you using this guide. If your child is prescribed a medication, similar questions should also be asked during his/her doctor visit. You and your child will not only obtain the detailed information you need, but the importance of RESPECTing the Rx will be reinforced.
One of the most powerful skills youth possess is their ability to observe. One of the most powerful opportunities we, as parents possess, is our opportunity to positively influence our children who are paying close attention to our lifestyle choices.
Click here for a printable version of the RESPECT the Rx Guide.