Pubdate: Sun, 31 Dec 2006
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2006 Sun-Sentinel Company
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


Fewer Teens Abuse Illegal Drugs; They Just Chug Cold Remedies Now

At first blush, it appears to be encouraging news: Teenagers are not 
getting high on marijuana, alcohol, cocaine and other hard drugs as 
frequently as they used to. In fact, illegal drug use among teens has 
nose-dived 23 percent in the past five years alone.

But don't get too comfortable, because that doesn't mean they've 
given up partying. Nothing involving teenagers is ever that easy. 
It's just that, instead of hitting the liquor cabinet and the street 
corner drug dealer, Johnny and Jane are increasingly turning to the 
medicine cabinet and the drugstore shelves.

They're downing their parents' and grandparents' prescription sleep 
aids or their OxyContin painkillers. They're drinking large doses of 
over-the-counter cold remedies, and they're chugging Robitussin cough 
syrup in a trend so hot it's called "Robo-tripping," often losing 
consciousness, suffering brain damage and sometimes even dying for 
their momentary high.

The latest government-funded survey, "Monitoring the Future," found 
that 7 percent of high school seniors and 4 percent of eighth-graders 
had gotten high on over-the-counter medicines in the past year. Abuse 
of OxyContin and the narcotic Vicodin is also a problem. Another 
survey done in May by the Partnership for Drug-Free America found an 
even wider Robo-tripping trend, concluding that one in 10 U.S. teens 
uses cough medicine to get high.

So while teens are getting the message on the dangers of illegal 
drugs, they are turning to more familiar, widely available and 
relatively cheap medication. Because these drugs are legal, many 
teens mistakenly believe they're harmless -- a dangerous assumption 
that has proven fatal for some.

Parents can help turn the tide by getting actively engaged. Educate 
your children on the dangers of any kind of intoxicant, monitor their 
behavior for signs of drug use and, easiest of all, clean out your 
medicine cabinet and lock away your pills.

BOTTOM LINE: These trends are dangerous and demand parental watchfulness.
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