The Pill Cabinet: How Your Teenager is Getting High

Is your teenager getting high off of your left over prescriptions?  Yes?  No?  How do you know?  How would you stop them if you found out it was true?  As a former pill addict, I want to answer some of these questions and also educate families on how easy it is for your kids to get high while sitting at home on the sofa.

It started slowly for me.  I would drink on the weekends and smoke a little weed after school let out.   At first, none of this was a big deal.  I didn’t have the look of an addict.  I was among those who were deemed the “weekend warriors” in my hometown.  However, within less than a year of trying pot for the first time, I was hooked on prescription pills… days a week.  I realize not everyone is like this.  Some people can manage it, and be a weekend warrior their entire life.  That wasn’t me.  I was an all out, let’s get blown, addict.  This mean that I was the type who would consume everything in front of me at at an ungodly rate.  Pills were no different.  Some people would take one or two of them to feel the effects, and I would take five or six just to feel normal.

Because I took so many pills, I would run out of money quicker than I preferred.  I was 16, and on a tight budget. (My parents money.)  Thus, I had to get creative.  How could I stay high on these painkillers when they were costing me five dollars a pill?  There had to be a cheaper way.  I remember sitting at a friends house while stirring on this issue until it hit me:  I could check my families medicine cabinets to see if there were any left over scripts that I could get high off of.  For a young addict, this was a revolutionary thought.  I knew if I found them, I could be high for days.  I would get all the benefits, and wouldn’t have to worry about scavenging money together to buy them.  It was an addict’s dream come true…as I slipped into my nightmare.

Long story short, I found some pills in my parents medicine cabinet.  I took the entire bottle in two days.  I needed to score again so I went to my other family members houses and peeked inside their cabinets as well.  I would repeat this process, without hindrance, for a number of years.  A bottle of hydrocodone here, or an expired script of Xanax there.  It didn’t matter.  As long as it got me high, I would pop it.  This was easy stuff for me, and my family seemed oblivious to it.

Why were they oblivious?  Because my grandma wasn’t an addict, and she didn’t think like one either.  My aunt wasn’t thinking about her old pills that were left over from her last surgery.  My uncle had no idea that someone was targeting his medicine.  My family didn’t have a clue about what I was doing and I knew it.  I took advantage of the fact that they were uneducated about the dangers of leaving old scripts around for a teen to experiment with.  I’m not blaming them.  My addiction, or  the theft of their medicine, wasn’t their fault.  What I’m saying is that I hope you will learn from this so your teen isn’t getting high like I was.

The end result wasn’t pretty.  In 2010, my kidneys shut down from all of the pills that I had taken.  Prior to this, I had walked into a friends house and taken nearly 200 pills from their cabinet.  As unbelievable as it may sound, no one blinked an eye.  I would take five or six of them in the morning and pass out by lunch time.  I would then wake around dinner time and pop five, maybe six more, and then pass out again.  I did this day after day, and I did it while sitting at home on the couch.  The Lord protected me from dying, but I was close.  Sure, if the pills hadn’t been there I still would have been an addict.  I understand that restricting drugs doesn’t take the itch away because addiction is rooted in bad character.  However, I do wish some adults had been more aware of what they had in their house, or at least what was missing from their own purse.  Do you think your teen might be at risk to one day share those regrets with me?  After reading this, I hope that isn’t the case.

What about you and your family?  Are your teens protected from your own medicine cabinets?  Are those old prescriptions locked away, or are they sitting out for anyone who wants to grab them?  The statistics of prescription overdose is stunning, and even worse, it’s happening right inside our middle class homes.  “Of the 22,400 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2005, opioid painkillers were the most commonly found drug, accounting for 38.2% of these deaths.” That’s sickening right?  I wonder how many of these could have been prevented if we were only aware of the danger behind those scripts in our medicine cabinets.  What if there weren’t any pills in the house that day so and so popped to many and passed away?  Who knows?  We can’t rewrite the past, but we can prepare for the future. Parents, I plead with you to be aware of what your teens can do with your pills.  I don’t want you to lose them…


Click the link below to read the statistics about the prescription drug abuse epidemic:

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