TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. —-Many Tahoe-Truckee-ites moved to this community for a better quality of life. To live in a pristine environment, with many opportunities for recreation, far from crime, traffic, and the dangers of “city living.” Some of us also wanted the best place to raise children so they would grow up to be healthy, happy, adults. In doing so, we teach them how to succeed and what to “watch out for.” In an isolated resort community like ours, we must realize drug and alcohol abuse may be one of the biggest challenges our children face.
A drug category that requires our increased attention is prescription medications. The fact is that one in five teens in America have abused Rx drugs (National Council on Patient Information and Education). Young people are abusing these medications to get high, fall asleep, wake up, and deal with stress. The Tahoe-Truckee California Healthy Kids Survey in 2010 told us that 11 percent of 9th-graders report misusing a prescription drug. It does happen here.
Some teens get the impression because prescription drugs are legal, advertised on TV, and prescribed by doctors, they may be safer than other illegal drugs. This has made prescription medications the statistical drug of choice after marijuana for local teens. The fact they are easy to get also adds to the problem. Seventy percent of people who misuse Rx medications say they get them from the medicine cabinets of family and friends.
While medicines can help those who need them, more has to be done to prevent their abuse. Prescription drugs are a source of serious concern for parents and caregivers. Adults need to secure, monitor or dispose of prescription drugs that put our youth at risk. Drugs flushed down the drain may end up in our water supply, put in the trash, may poison animals, or wildlife. Fortunately, there are community members working to increase education and provide safe disposal of unused medications. The next opportunity happens at Rx Medication Take Back Day held in Tahoe and Truckee Sept. 29. Please join your fellow citizens, law enforcement, public health, and waste management entities in being part of the solution. For more info visit www.ttfwdd.com.
— Christi Goates is a volunteer board member for the Tahoe-Truckee Future without Drug Dependence Coalition. Christi is a certified drug and alcohol addiction counselor working in the community. She is also the proud mother of three beautiful teenagers.