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Follow Your Bliss

By: Ashley Dane

Follow Your Bliss is the blog of Ashley Webb Dane, a mother of two teenagers who has been in recovery for five years. She is committed to carrying the message of the spiritual aspect of recovery and the empowerment of women in recovery. She is a certified hypnotherapist, and is currently Director of Communications at ONE80CENTER, a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Beverly Hills.

Protecting Kids from the Medicine Cabinet

(not rated)

Aug 09, 2012

I heard a radio show yesterday morning about the rise of prescription pill abuse among Baby Boomers. That in itself was only mildly interesting to me, only because I had no real relationship to what was being said. And also, in my line of work, it’s not shocking news. then someone called in and said one of the big concerns is when parents or grandparents have prescription pills in their medicine cabinet, and younger family members have easy access to these highly-addictive substances.

That hit me really hard. I hadn't really thought about this angle and how it affected me. That is exactly how I got started. My great aunt and uncle, whose house I spent a lot of time at — entire summers, frequent weekends — had been pharmacists before they retired. They had a cornucopia of prescription pills in their bathroom. I remember whenever anyone was stressed out, my aunt would say, “Go take a valium.” So, at the age of 14, I was stressed out. I was very stressed out about a boy. So, I took not one valium, but five, because it felt like a code red sort of misery and one just wouldn't be enough ... and the rest is history.

But there's more — there were other family members who had stashes of pot, and of course, there was always alcohol in the mini-bars in all those southern houses. It was all so incredibly available, and it offered me a welcome respite from the persistent insecurity and utter devastation of adolescence. I pillaged those medications, and discovered all kinds of pharmaceutical cocktails. I was a full-blown pill head by 18, when I landed myself in ICU from an overdose on those very pills from my great aunt's stash.

I am pleased to report that in my house, my teenage kids don't have access to anything that can alter their frame of mind. It’s not easy being a teenager; we all know that. Putting substances within reach of kids is a ticking time bomb. If a pill made them feel better once, it will again, and there is always something that doesn't feel great at that age. I watch them struggle with all the changes that are happening to them, and I continue to guide them to other ways of coping. One way I do that is by my own abstinence. I don't show them that escape through drugs is acceptable. I show them that struggles are temporary, and will eventually pass. I learned this the hard way. I hope they don't have to.

I am not saying that I wouldn't have found my way to drugs and alcohol if it wouldn’t have been so easily found in the house — there is no way to know. I discovered early on that drugs made me feel better. If they had not been so accessible, I wonder if I might have stumbled on some other tool or outlet for my angst. As it was, my discovery tossed me into all the culture and drug friendships and lifestyles that go along with using.

I wish there was more being done about reminding people who take prescription drugs to lock up their pills, especially if there are ever younger family members loose in their house. It’s like keeping a loaded, unlocked gun lying around. One might have a doctor's prescription, and a legitimate reason to take them, but it’s an invitation to anyone who might feel they need some relief from life's ups and downs, to have those pills sitting around unguarded. It could really change the course of someone's life.

Be responsible about your medications and store them in a safe place! Remind others to do the same. If you have family members that are not being careful, remind them of the possible consequences. It could save someone a lot of grief, if not their life.


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