More Than Half of Massachusetts Parents Say Their Kids Have Access to Abusable Prescription Drugs in Their Homes

~ New survey demonstrates that parents should take further precautions to safeguard medications~

Boston, MA—October 12, 2011—According to the results of a recent statewide survey, more than half of parents (56 percent) say their kids have access to their (parents’) prescription (Rx) medications, and one in seven parents (14 percent) have given their children pain medication that was not prescribed for their child.

The survey was released this morning by The Partnership at Drugfree.org during a briefing at the Massachusetts State House hosted by Representative Liz Malia (D-Boston) and Senator John Keenan (D-Quincy).  It showed that parents don’t recognize that their children are at risk of abusing prescription pain relievers and need to take greater steps to ensure they are taking medications properly.

The study surveyed 300 parents of children 12-25 years old, living at home in the state of Massachusetts, an area that has been deeply impacted by Rx drug misuse and abuse. In fact, more people in the Commonwealth die from fatal overdoses than from car accidents each year*, and an average of 12 Massachusetts residents die each week from opioid overdoses**.

“The survey findings are alarming and indicate that parents are often providing prescription drugs to their kids in an improper and dangerous manner,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org.  “Add to that their acknowledgment that their children have ready access to potentially dangerous pain relievers, and we have a high-risk situation in homes across the Commonwealth.  Parents need to be aware of what can happen under their own roof and play a more active role in safeguarding medications in their homes.”   He added, “We are pleased to work with states like Massachusetts who are making a strong and active effort to work with parents and community leaders to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.”

Other Key Findings from the Survey Showed:
•    Over one quarter of Massachusetts parents (27 percent) reported that they have themselves taken Rx pain medications not prescribed for them, at least occasionally.
•    Thirty percent of Massachusetts parents still have unused pain medications at home “in case someone in the family needs them,” while only 19 percent have spoken to grandparents about safeguarding medicines in their homes.

“Prescription drug abuse is of critical concern in the Commonwealth and is a top priority for our Committee,” said Representative Liz Malia, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.  “I am pleased to join with The Partnership at Drugfree.org to raise awareness about this problem and help educate parents and families about this dangerous behavior.”

Survey findings also indicate that kids gain easier access to Rx drugs according to the locations in which adults tend to store these medications in their homes.  Thirty-six percent of adults said they store Rx drugs in the kitchen, while only 30 percent store them in a bathroom.  Twenty-four percent reported they store Rx medications in their bedrooms.

“This survey demonstrates the general lack of understanding of the dangerousness and often highly-addictive qualities of prescription drugs,” said Senator John Keenan, Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.  “Raising awareness about the danger of prescription drug abuse, and helping parents know how to get help for a child, is critical.”

The statewide study surveyed 300 primary caregivers of children 12-25 years old who have had prescription pain medications in their home in the past two years.  Conducted by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, the Massachusetts Pain Medication survey was administered online via a nationally representative panel by Research Now.

Time To Act: A Critical Resource to Help Parents and Families

The briefing marked the statewide rollout of The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s Time To Act community education program, developed with unrestricted support from pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma. Time to Act is the centerpiece of the nonprofit’s intervention resources for parents, guiding them step by step into action if they think or know their child is using drugs or drinking.  This and other community programs have been successfully piloted in Lynn, South Boston, Dorchester and Lowell.

“Prescription drug abuse is a problem facing not only Massachusetts, but states across the country,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Chair of the Governor’s Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention.  “We will continue to work with organizations to help raise awareness, and encourage initiatives that are both proactive and preventative especially within our younger populations.”

For more information please visit drugfree.org or Time To Act.

*Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

**Source: Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, Massachusetts Department of Public Health

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