Eight Americans every single day, that's how many people are killed from overdosing on prescription drugs. Young adults ages 18 to 25 are the primary abusers but more hospitals are starting to see this abuse at an even earlier age.
They can be found in nearly any home but are your medicines and prescription drugs being used for their intended purpose?
"Even though we live in a very safe community and a rural state we still see substance-abuse happening." Said Darcy Jensen, director of Prairie View Prevention Services.
More importantly, this abuse is happening among children. It's easy to be naive but the unsettling truth is more and more kids are experimenting with drugs. For many, their first encounters come before they even reach high school.
"Nationally there is an increase in this age group from anywhere between 10 to 14 years of age that have been abusing either over-the-counter medication or prescription drug medication." Said Dr. Jared Friedman, an emergency physician at Avera McKennan.
This middle school age group of tweens have already started popping up locally at the Avera McKennan ER. Whether it's cough syrup or a family member's prescription, they're doing whatever they can to get some sort of high.
"They will huff or inhale different things such as canisters of whip cream to get the propellant out of them and that can cause them euphoria and hallucinations things like that." Said Dr. Friedman.
Dr. Friedman says huffing extends to any aerosol product, some patients have admitted to using air dusters. Not only are there various legal consequences for abusing drugs, but tweens face school suspensions and early abuse can lead to severe health problems later.
"We often see if you start earlier than that your chances of addiction increase greatly but we also see a developmental delay." Said Jensen.
For many tweens they are a getting a 'street education' in how to get high much earlier in life. While most cases don't involve an actual drug deal, many kids don't even have to leave the house.
"The medicine cabinet is where most of these children start getting their drugs and they start using them by just going to their own medicine cabinet and use these over-the-counter drugs that we think are safe and you can have freely out in the open when really you probably have to start watching and controlling them." Said Dr. Friedman.
This begs the question: what can parents look out for? Middle school is a time where kids begin to develop their independence and a change in their behavior isn't always a red flag. Aside from monitoring your medicine cabinet, parents should make sure they are aware of and keep up on the latest trends.
"If you hear your child talking about 'Robo-Tripping' or 'Triple-C's' or 'Skittles' sometimes that can be Coricidin or over-the-counter cough and cold medications that they'll utilize in order to get high." Said Dr. Friedman.
The most important factor may simply be you being an active parent and making sure your kids know the dangers and consequences of drug abuse.
"Sometimes parents are afraid to have that talk and are concerned that it might make that child more curious but in fact wouldn't you rather have them come to you with those questions and have that open dialogue?" Said Dr. Friedman.
Parents carry a powerful influence and while the choice is ultimately left with the child, your conversation could make all the difference.
if you need help starting the conversation on drug use Prairie View Prevention Services has plenty of tips and talking points at your disposal. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.