As a concerned citizen and aunt of teenagers, the rising prevalence of adolescent abuse of medicine in the United States is frightening. 

The most recent research indicates that, after marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medicines are the most commonly abused drugs among teenagers.

Many of us are from an era where our grandparents kept their medicine lined up on the counter in the kitchen and didn’t dare throw any unused medicine away.

While most households aren’t keeping their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications on display, many of us are not monitoring them or keeping them locked and secured, away from our children.

Therefore, it is no surprise that teenagers report they obtain pills for recreational use from their own, their friends’ and their grandparents’ homes.  

The natural question that arises is: why?  If we know that medicine abuse is on the rise among teenagers, why aren’t we locking up our medicines and disposing of unused prescriptions? 

A large percentage of people view medicine as safe. If a doctor prescribes it or if you can buy it in the supermarket, how dangerous can it be? The answer is highly dangerous. After traffic fatalities, unintentional deaths from alcohol and drug poisoning are the second most common form of death among adolescents. 

Caron’s Student Assistance Program offers the following suggestions to parents and grandparents regarding prescription and over-the-counter medications in the home:

Secure all medicines in the home;

• Dispose properly of all unused medicines;

• Become educated about the signs and symptoms of drug use, specifically including medicine abuse;

• Talk to your children and grandchildren about the dangers of abusing medicines of any kind.

The recent visit of David Rotenberg, Vice President of Treatment at Caron, was most timely and I was pleased that the one and a half day intensive training with Bermuda Youth Counselling Services (BYCS) counselors was both beneficial and meaningful. 

This training was part of an ongoing collaboration between Caron Bermuda and BYCS with the provision of adolescent and family group programmes. As we prepare for the upcoming semester of the programme, Mr. Rotenberg included during his training sessions issues related to therapeutic treatment models for adolescents and the integrated role of the family in the treatment of our youth.  

David Rotenberg is recognized throughout the industry as an expert in treating addiction, especially related to adolescents and young adults. He shared his innovative treatment approaches and a range of topical issues ongoing in Bermuda including marijuana use, co-occurring mental health disorders, relapse and family issues in a lively and interactive discussion during his presentation at Argus.

Services are available on-island via Caron Bermuda and BYCS for adolescents dealing with substance abuse issues. Caron Bermuda is a not-for-profit, strategic partner of Caron Treatment Centers. Caron Bermuda provides Bermuda residents, both adult and adolescent, with on-island outpatient therapy and direct access to quality off-island treatment at a Caron Treatment Center. Upon their return to Bermuda, individuals in recovery are able to participate in Caron Bermuda’s non-residential aftercare and group programmes. For more information, visit www.Caron.org/Bermuda

Gita Blakeney Saltus is Caron Treatment Centers Regional Vice President, Bermuda