August is National Drug Drop-Off month and is hoping to raise awareness about the potential for drug abuse from youth who are housebound during the pandemic. (Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash)

National Drug Drop-Off month aims to reduce substance abuse by house-bound youth

Expert says there is misconception prescribed medication is safe to take

August is National Drug Drop-Off month and those involved hope to draw attention to another devastating health concern exacerbated by the pandemic and still prevalent throughout households across the country.

With schools closed, young people are missing their normal routines as extracurricular activities are cancelled and social distancing from friends is being encouraged – all of which may lead to feelings of boredom and isolation for youth.

READ ALSO: Coroner emphasizes jury’s recommendations in Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

According to Drug Free Kids Canada and London Drugs there is worry that youth may consider using substances as a way to cope. Both organizations say it is important for parents and caregivers to be vigilant about secure storage and proper disposal of unused prescription medications to reduce the potential for misuse.

Medications often prescribed for depression, anxiety or as sleep aids such as Xanax or Valium, or stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are commonly abused by youth. Some of the most prolifically abused medications are those prescribed for pain such as codeine, OxyContin or Hycodan which all can be highly addictive.

READ ALSO: West Shore teen who died of suspected fentanyl overdose remembered as ‘kind’, ‘bubbly’

“There is a misperception among some teenagers and young adults that prescribed medications are safe – even when used illicitly – so they may be less fearful about experimenting with them. Especially when they can find them easily at home or in friends’ homes,” said Chris Chiew, general manager of pharmacy, London Drugs.

London Drugs accepts unused or expired medication for safe disposal year-round. The returned medication is safely incinerated, preventing them from ending up in a landfill or sewer system. London Drugs also disposes of sharps returned to the approved sharp containers. In 2019 London Drugs helps dispose of more than 17,000 kilograms of unused medication.

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