Prescription-drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the nation. According to surveys from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 20 percent of teens say they have taken a prescription drug without having a prescription for it themselves, and 5 percent report abusing over-the-counter cough medicine to get high.

The New Jersey Prevention Network urges parents to talk to their teens about prescription and OTC medicine abuse. NJPN suggests that parents continually monitor their medicine cabinets and talk with other parents and community leaders about dangers of prescription and OTC drug abuse. Additionally, NJPN has joined with the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey's American Medicine Chest Challenge, which was held on Nov. 10 around the state.

While there are many programs and initiatives being utilized to prevent prescription and OTC abuse, it is important for parents to recognize that some of the best prevention efforts start at home. Parents who educate themselves, talk with their teenagers, recognize the early warning signs and eliminate easy access to these drugs can help prevent prescription drug abuse. For more information and five simple steps to prevent prescription drug abuse, please visit AmericanMedicineChest.com.

Parents can also join NJPN in supporting pending legislation in New Jersey, S350, which would reduce the abuse of the most commonly abused prescription drugs by promotion of tamper-resistant drugs. This legislation ensures that the judgment of a medical professional who finds it to be in the best interests of a patient to prescribe a tamper-resistant formulation of an opiate drug is not overridden by a pharmacist simply at the patient's request.

Many states are working to reduce prescription drug abuse, overdose and misuse, and have already enacted legislation to address this increasingly important public health issue. Working together, doctors, pharmacists, parents and community members can increase communication, secure prescriptions and protect lives.

DIANE LITTERER

Executive Director

New Jersey Prevention Network

Lakewood