Wooton: Education the key to parents understanding drug use
By Will Wooton
Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing area of concern not only nationally but in Southern California. Due to our close proximity to the border, many teens venture to Mexico to obtain very common prescription drugs — not only for their abuse but also for sales.
How can parents stop this growing problem? Sadly, most individuals don’t know enough about medications prescribed and the implications of taking them. I talked with Dr. Dan Smith, associate director of Urgent Care for Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group in Rancho Bernardo, about how he treats and manages this issue from a professional side.
Dr. Smith and I agree that when treating adolescent patients for problems which are painful, it is very helpful if the parents disclose any history of drug/alcohol abuse or prior/ongoing addiction treatment. Frequently, patients with substantial substance abuse problems may easily conceal this from their physician. Surprisingly, some parents are not aware how important this information is to the physician as they formulate a pain management plan.
It is also helpful if parents agree to oversee their child’s pain medication use, particularly when narcotics are being considered. All narcotic medications in the household should be secured if they are still needed or disposed of if they are not.
The top five most commonly abused prescription medications can be classified broadly into one of three categories — narcotics, benzodiazepines or stimulants.
Narcotics, or opiates, are used to treat moderate to severe pain. The most common of these include: Hydrocodone (Vicodin); Oxycodone (OxyContin); Oxymorphone (Opana); Propoxyphene (Darvon); Hydromorphone (Dilaudid); Meperidine (Demerol); Diphenoxylate (Lomotil).
A second class is benzodiazepines. These medications are typically used in a variety of settings to treat symptoms of anxiety or to help with insomnia. Their use in conjunction with alcohol is quite common.
Central nervous system depressants include: Pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal); Diazepam (Valium); Alprazolam (Xanax).
The third class is the stimulants and include: Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine); Methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta); Amphetamines (Adderall).
For a parent, knowing what drugs your child is taking, or possibly trying to obtain, can be a key in cutting off their supply. If you see your child texting, emailing or talking about these drugs, be concerned. Slang terms can be the key to understanding what your child is discussing. Become familiar with the terms below:
Xanax – Z-bar, Bricks, Benzos
Oxycodone - Oxy’s, Hillbilly Heroin, Dope, 40s, 20s, 80s
Valium – Blues
Ritalin – Vitamin R, Rid, Rittys, Rits
Adderall – Beans, Black Beauties, Speed, Uppers
Vicodin – Vike
Percocet – Percs
Sedatives and Tranquilizers - Chills Pills, French Friends, Tranqs
According to Dr. Smith, patients who are in severe pain can use a number of non-narcotic medications including ketorolac (also known as Toradol) and tramadol (also known as Ultram). Toradol is equipotent to morphine in postsurgical pain treatment studies and is highly effective in treating patients with kidney stone pain, pain related to traumatic injuries and pain associated with headaches, gallstones and other issues. Toradol is related to aspirin and ibuprofen but is a much more potent pain reliever than either of those medications.
Even severe pain can frequently be managed quite effectively with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, also known as Tylenol and Advil, respectively. When narcotics are required, ibuprofen can be used in combination with small doses of hydrocodone.
Keeping your physician updated can be a critical component in the treatment plan. Educating yourself as a parent is always your safest bet to prevent teenage addiction.
Thank you to Dr. Dan Smith for his time and discussing how quality medical care works on a clinical level.
Wooton is director of Pacific Treatment Services and co-author of “Bring Your Teen Back From The Brink”. PTS is a substance abuse company working with teens and young adults. Website: www.PacificTreatmentServices.com.
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