Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention

In this article we learn why prescription drug abuse prevention is so important. Pain medication use should be closely monitored and kept away from teens. Learn about the role parents, doctors, and pharmacies play in preventing painkiller drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse prevention is the key to avoiding the dangers of misusing painkillers, including addiction and fatal overdoses. Patients, parents, doctors, and pharmacies can all play a role in prescription drug abuse prevention.

Patients play an important role in prescription drug abuse prevention, in themselves and others.

  • Always follow the instructions on the bottle. Donít crush, chew, or dissolve painkillers or take more than recommended.
  • Never change your dose or stop taking a painkiller without first talking to your doctor.
  • Never give painkillers to anyone else.
  • Keep track of your painkillers so you notice if any are missing.
  • Dispose of painkillers when you are done with them. Unless stated otherwise on the bottle, throw them in the trash.
  • Be honest with your doctor; tell him or her if you have a history of substance abuse of any kind because this increases your risk of painkiller addiction. Your doctor may be able to recommend other ways of treating your pain.
  • Stop taking painkillers when your doctor tells you to. Donít ďshop aroundĒ for another doctor who will keep prescribing painkillers.
  • Learn other ways to manage or reduce pain, such as meditation or physical therapy.
  • Understand the effects of mixing painkillers with other prescription drugs or with alcohol; this can be deadly.
  • Understand the effects that painkillers can have on driving, operating machinery, and other potentially dangerous activities.
  • If you are concerned about your use of painkillers, feel like you need painkillers, become obsessed with painkillers, or show other signs of addiction, seek medical help immediately.

Many teens abuse painkillers, and they often donít realize itís dangerous to do so. Parents can help prevent teen prescription drug abuse and addiction.

  • Keep track of your own prescription drugs, and keep them locked away from teen access.
  • Keep track of the levels on bottles of painkillers so it will be easy to notice if some are missing.
  • Encourage older family members to keep track of their painkillers; they are more likely to have painkillers in their homes.
  • Talk to your teenís friendsí parents to make sure they are also keeping their painkillers out of teensí reach.
  • Donít allow teens to spend time after school without adult supervision - this is the time when teens are most likely to abuse painkillers.
  • Talk to teens and let them know that abusing painkillers can be dangerous and that they should never use painkillers unless a doctor prescribes them for a medical reason.
  • Parents should set a good example by not abusing or sharing prescription or over the counter drugs.
  • Pay attention to what your teen does on the Internet, especially any purchases they make, to make sure they are not ordering painkillers. Consider not allowing the Internet in bedrooms, and keeping the computer in a public place where others will see if the teen is ordering painkillers online.

Doctors and pharmacies also play an important role in prescription drug abuse prevention.

  • Doctors should be certain to get a complete medical history and ask patients to be honest with them about past histories of substance abuse.
  • Doctors and pharmacies should educate patients about the dangers of misusing or abusing painkillers and make certain that the patient understands exactly how painkillers should be used and any precautions they should take like avoiding alcohol.
  • Be aware of patients who need frequent refills, or who may be shopping for multiple prescriptions.
  • Use a database to keep track of patients who have a history of painkiller abuse or shopping around for doctors or pharmacies to give them more painkillers.
  • Watch for other signs that a patient may be suffering from addiction. Because many patients think that painkillers are safe, they may not realize they have a problem.

It is also possible to address the reasons that people misuse or abuse painkillers. This can mean finding alternative ways to handle pain, even used in conjunction with properly prescribed painkillers, and helping people better cope with stress and other negative emotions so they donít turn to painkillers to help them.


Parents: The Anti-Drug, Conversations for Parents [online]
Office of National Drug Control Policy, Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention [online]
Michelle Meadows, Prescription Drug Use and Abuse, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Consumer Magazine, September-October 2001 [online]
Office of National Drug Control Policy, Press Release, Females Bucking National Drug Abuse Trends, April 30, 2007 [online]

Related Article: Painkiller Abuse Overview >>