Parents are number one

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
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By North Hawaii Drug-Free Coalition

Who’s more likely to influence your child’s behavior—TV, friends, the internet, rock stars or sports heroes? Would it surprise you to know that it’s you?

Yes. Although it may not feel that way, surveys show again and again that the majority of young people say their parents are their biggest influencers.

What does that mean?

Well, it means that even when they act like they’re ignoring you, your messages, your love and care are getting through. And that’s a big deal when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Not only can you “talk the talk” by letting them know that drinking and drugging are not OK with you – you can “walk the walk” by setting a good example, in ways big and small.

One good example, and an easy way to be a good influence, is to participate in the upcoming National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, April 28.

In Hawaii, prescription medication is the second most abused drug (after marijuana,) with stimulants being the most common. Stimulants include amphetamines and methamphetamine (“Ice,”) but can also be prescribed by doctors to treat asthma, respiratory problems, obesity, sleep disorders or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall.

Painkillers are also commonly abused. These include opioids such as OxyContin, OxyMorphone (Opana), Vicodin, Percoset and others, which are prescribed fairly often for injuries, post-surgery or after dental procedures.

“Hawaii Five-0” star Alex O’Loughlin (“Steve McGarrett”) is absent from the April 30 episode, because he checked into a rehabilitation center for help controlling pain medication use, from a shoulder injury. This highly publicized decision can be seen as walking the walk—making a positive choice to get help before more serious consequences occur.

Of course this does NOT mean your kids should stop taking their meds. What it does mean is U Need 2 Know that kids do get high on prescription drugs. They save them up and take too many at once; sell pills or trade with each other; they raid medicine cabinets at home or their grandparents’ house and mix them with other pills to see what happens. Most teens who do these drugs say they got their first pills from home.

How do I keep my medications safe?

Take-Back Day is a good start because it’s a safe, confidential way to dispose of outdated, unused or unneeded medication. All you have to do is drop them off at designated locations (listed below). It’s an excellent excuse for a little spring cleaning and possibly working with your child as a team will inspire a teachable moment and a longer conversation.

“Parents, the Anti-Drug” ( has resources and interactive tips about how to clean house of unwanted prescriptions. They suggest a step-by-step tour of home “danger zones,” from bathrooms (yours and your child’s,) to kitchen cabinets and bedside table drawers, pockets, purses, backpacks and elsewhere. Visit grandparents or older family members’ homes and help them, too, especially if your children visit on their own.

Ask questions about what you find, explain why you are doing it, and be meticulous about where you keep and how you monitor prescription drugs so that you will notice missing pills. You can also use the project to remind kids that you do not approve of prescription drug abuse, or any other kind.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is an initiative of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and April 28 is the fourth such drive. Americans that participated in the last drive, October 29, 2011, turned in more than 377,086 pounds (188.5 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,327 take-back sites in all 50 states and U.S. territories. When the results of the three prior Take-Back Days are combined, the DEA, and its state, local, and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed 995,185 pounds (498.5 tons) of medication from circulation in the past 13 months.

On the Big Island, Take-Back locations will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m on Saturday, April 28 in East and West Hawaii: Hilo, Army Aviation Support Facility next to Civil Air Patrol, 1095 Kekuanoa St. Kona, Hawaii County Police Dept., Kona Police Station Parking Lot, 75-5221 Queen Ka’ahumanu Hwy.

Additionally, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, in partnership with the State of Hawaii Narcotics Enforcement Division and Attorney General’s Office, will be accepting drop-off’s at Kaiser Permanente clinics, below. For further information on Kaiser’s program, call (808) 432-5549. 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., April 25, Kona Clinic 1 to 4 p.m. April 25, South Kona Clinic 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., April 26, Waimea Clinic 1 to 4 p.m., April 26, Hilo Clinic

Prescription drug abuse is extremely dangerous, even though pills may be perceived as safer than street drugs because they come from a doctor. Take-Back Day is a great opportunity to help keep your home safe, and to talk with your kids, reinforce your disapproval, and be the number one positive influence in your child’s life.

The North Hawaii Drug-Free Coalition, a project of Five Mountains Hawaii, is a regional volunteer organization committed to developing strong, sustaining relationships for Healthy Communities Choosing to Live Drug Free. For more information, visit