Teens and Medicine

Friday, October 22, 2010

image I’d like to introduce Dawn from 5 Kids and a Dog! Dawn is one busy Mom with her extensively, blended family. She is an experienced homeschooler, lover all things techie and has a strong faith. Check out her suggestions for watching teens with medication and apply them with even young children. Being a mother of young ones I have already started looking at medicine differently and even taken some extra steps to explain how any why I know how much to give each child.

Thank you Dawn for your great information! After you check this out, definitely take a trip to read more like this on her blog too. 


image Being the mother of now three teenagers, I am constantly aware of the possible consequences of a teen’s bad decisions. Even a 17 year old can fluctuate between being a responsible, teachable teen to behaving like a silly, no-care-in-the-world junior higher.  It’s a hard balance between what we know that they know, and what they may actually DO.  In an age when our teens need to have a doctor’s note and/or written parent permission in order to take two Tylenol given by the school nurse, the waters are muddied even more.

When I was a teenager, if I had a headache, I told my Mom and she would tell me to get some aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen from the medicine cabinet and take them. It was always kept in the bathroom.  These days, however, we need to seriously consider how wise this is.  Your teen may be responsible enough to be trusted to only take the recommended dosage of a medication. Your teen’s friend, however, may not be. There is also the issue of medication abuse to consider.
You need to ask yourself some questions:
  • How accessible are your medications? 
  • What meds do you keep easily accessible?
  • Do you lock up any of them?
  • Do your teens have friends that come over?
  • Are your kids allowed to self-medicate?
  • Has your teen ever abused drugs or alcohol?
Teens these days use legal drugs to get a high.  They even use things we would never consider as drugs! See  Teens and Alternative Drug Use.

Let me illustrate how easily something could happen, with a normally-responsible teen.

There was an 18 year old girl who had a cold accompanied by a pretty bad headache.  She was afraid she wouldn’t be able to sleep that night, and would end up late for work, so when she spotted the Tylenol PM, she reached for them.  Knowing that her headache was pretty bad, and that she could take 3 ibuprofen if needed, she thought she could do the same with the Tylenol PM, and she swallowed four.  She didn’t go to bed right away, which turned out to be a good thing.  She was watching TV with her family, and started to feel extremely dizzy and nauseous.

Her grandmother grew concerned, as the girl’s face grew very pale, and she said that her heart was racing.  She felt very ill. She thought she would fall over.  She could hardly stay awake, but her grandparents made her get up and walk around, drink water, and stay UP for several hours while the effects ran through her system.  She felt horrible, vomited, but ended up being okay.  Had she gone to sleep, it is hard to say what would have happened.  This is a normally responsible teen who made a bad decision.  Bad decisions can have lasting, horrible consequences.  Acetaminophen can cause serious kidney damage and failure. The effects of acetaminophen overdose are very hard to counteract once it begins to affect the kidneys.  Add in a sleep aid and there could be awful circumstances as a result. This was an accidental overdose that turned out okay.  They don’t always. Imagine if she had also taken something like a nighttime cold medicine along with it?

Should you lock up your meds? Yes.  And if you have any prescription narcotics: pain medications, muscle relaxers, anxiety or anti-depressant medications, ADHD meds and others, then DEFINITELY.  Is it a bit of a hassle?  Maybe.  But how hard would it be to put 2 ibuprofen in a baggie and say “Here, these are for later when your cramps come back”?  Not at all.  Monitor the meds your kids are using. Always check your expiration dates and dispose of all medications that are expired properly.  Keep your kids and others’ safe with a magnetic locked cabinet. Ours is the very narrow, almost useless kitchen cabinet shown in the thumbnail at the top, which works perfectly, and when our kids have friends over, they would never recognize it as a place where medication is kept. If your child must have access to something, leave them only the amount they will need for a dose or two if needed.

Yes, we want to trust our kids.  Yes, they need to learn how to be responsible.  They also may tend to jump to medicine as the easy way out, and so as all parents of teens soon learn, you have to be ever watchful that it never becomes abused.


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