Biden to Parents: "The Time to Talk is Now"
Biden Commemorates National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month
U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, issued the following statement today to commemorate August 2007 as "National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month." Before the August recess, the U.S. Senate passed Sen. Biden's resolution (S. Res. 225) which encourages parents to educate themselves and to talk to their teens about the dangers associated with medicine abuse.
"With middle and high school students starting fall classes soon, there is no time like the present for parents to talk with their tweens and teens about the misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs," said Sen. Biden. "The time to talk is now."
Medicine abuse is a growing problem that demands immediate attention. Estimates suggest that between 6 and 11 million people aged 12 or older are using prescription pain relievers for non-medical reasons. In fact, more people recently started using pain relievers non-medically than started using marijuana, which is the most widely abused drug in the country. According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 1 in 10 teens reports having abused over-the-counter cough medicines to get high, and more than 1/3 of teens mistakenly believe that taking prescription drugs is much safer than using street drugs.
"We can't just put a lock on the medicine cabinet and think our children and teens will be safe. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs are too easy and cheap to come by. A bottle of cough syrup costs a few dollars and a prescription drug can be taken from mom or dad's medicine cabinet for free," said Sen. Biden.
Research shows that kids who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use than those who do not. Yet, only about 3 in 10 kids report talking to their parents.
National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month raises public awareness about the dangers that misuse of these drugs pose by promoting the message that over-the-counter and prescription medicines must be taken only as labeled or prescribed, and that when used recreationally or in large doses they can have serious and life-threatening consequences. It reminds parents to educate themselves about this problem and talk to their children about all types of substance abuse, and it encourages national, State, and local officials to increase awareness of this disturbing trend.
During this month of awareness, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America launched a Time To Talk initiative to encourage parents to talk with their tweens and teens, and to provide parents and caregivers with tools and resources to start and continue the conversation (www.timetotalk.org). And the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association developed A Dose of Prevention: Stopping Cough Medicine Abuse Before It Starts, an education toolkit that arms parents and educators with key information to address medicine abuse (www.doseofprevention.org).
"When parents talk to their kids about substance abuse, most will listen. Parents need to send a clear message that the abuse and recreational use of these medicines to get high can have serious, life-threatening consequences. Parents and teens should not have to learn this lesson the hard way."