It’s Allergy Season!

April 6th, 2010

Do your eyes feel watery and itchy?  Are you sneezing and congested?  If so, you may be one of the more than 50 million people in the United States whose respiratory tracts overacts to pollens that are widespread this time of year.  This condition, known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, can make studying pretty difficult when these nasty symptoms interfere.  So what’s a student to do?  For starters, if you know you have allergic rhinitis, you can visit your health care provider to see if medications that inhibit inflammatory responses are appropriate for you.  Sometimes cool compresses placed over the eyes can relieve symptoms.  Trying to avoid allergy triggers such as dust, grasses, and pollens, is also important.  Some people find good relief with certain medications.  Check with your health care provider to see if medication might be appropriate for you.  If you don’t have a health care provider, we’re always happy to take care of you here at the Teen Health Center!  Just come by and pick up a registration form, have your parent sign it and you’re all set to have your health care provided right here at school.

Prescription drug dangers

April 6th, 2010

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS:  KNOW THE FACTS!!

Did you know that in Washington State, there are more deaths each year from prescription drug abuse than from meth, cocaine, and heroin combined?  Students often think that because painkillers are prescribed by doctors that they are safe.  This is not true!  When not taken as directed, or not taken by the person to whom the drug is prescribed, these drugs can result in liver failure, toxic poisoning, neurological problems, and respiratory problems that can threaten your life.  The level of abuse of prescription drugs in our state makes it more likely that you or a loved will die from a drug overdose than from a car crash.

The Problem

Teens often experiment with drugs and/or alcohol as part of their social development.  Some people experiment because they think it will help them have more fun, lose weight, fit in, and even study more effectively.  Some people think that prescription drugs are safer and less addictive than street drugs; after all, these are drugs that moms, dads, and even kid brothers and sisters use.  Other people who try prescription drugs think they’re not doing anything illegal because these drugs are prescribed by doctors.  But taking drugs without a prescription – or sharing a prescription drug with friends – is actually breaking the law.

The Culprits and Their Effects

The leading types of drugs that students are using include painkillers, such as those drugs prescribed after surgery; depressants, such as sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs; and stimulants, such as those used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Some teens are also abusing over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as cough and cold remedies, and inhalants that put chemicals into your lungs.  

About 40 percent of 12th graders say that painkillers are fairly or very easy to get, and more than half say the same of stimulants.  This means that you very likely to know someone who is either using or distributing these drugs.  The names and some side effects of the most commonly used drugs are:

  • Painkillers: Vicodin, Tylenol with Codeine, OxyContin, Percocet.  These drugs can cause constricted pupils, nausea, vomiting, and respiratory depression (inadequate ventilation)
  • Depressants: Klonopin, Nembutal, Soma, Valium, Xanax.  These drugs can cause slurred speech, dizziness, respiratory depression
  • Stimulants: Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, Ritalin, methylphenidate.  These drugs can cause anxiety, delusions, flushed skin, chest pain with heart palpitations
  • OTCs: Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold, Robitussin, Vicks Formula 44, Cough Relief, and others.  Some of these drugs can cause liver damage or respiratory depression.

 

  • OTC drugs can be harmful, even deadly, when used in excess.  They can also be addictive.
  • Using OTC drugs is not cool.  OTC drug use often makes problems worse, not better.
  • ·         Abusing OTC drugs can lead to severe consequences, such as loss of driver’s license, loss of college scholarships, denial of admission into college, and can have a huge impact on future career aspirations.
  • ·         Abusing drugs alters your judgment – you might make bad decisions on drugs that you will later regret.
  • ·         Using drugs and driving can injure or kill you and others.

 

 

What to Do

If you are faced with a situation where someone wants you to use drugs or alcohol, remember that you have the power and the right to say “No.”  Here are some ideas for what to say or do.  You could …

  • calmly say you’re not interested or simply, “No thanks, I’m good.”
  • say you have to go home and don’t want to smell of alcohol or appear to be high.
  • say good friends wouldn’t pressure you to do something you already said you don’t want to do.
  • If you suspect that a friend has taken drugs and that person appears to be asleep and is difficult to wake up, is vomiting or appears to be very ill, call 9-1-1.  You will not get in trouble for helping someone, even if you have used drugs yourself. 
  • If you have more questions about drugs (prescription or not) you can talk confidentially to FHS nurse Robin Fleming.  If you are 14 years of age or older, and you are not going to hurt yourself or others, Nurse Fleming will maintain confidentiality. 
  • If you have drugs (pill or capsule form only) you want to dispose of, Group Health on Rainier Ave. S. has a drop box immediately inside the facility where you can drop them off anonymously.

 

Sources for this article include:

Partnership for a Drug Free America:  http://www.drugfree.org/

National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, Office of National Drug Control Policy: www.TheAntiDrug.com

Washington State Attorney General’s Office:  http://www.atg.wa.gov/prescriptiondrug.aspx

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD): http://www.sadd.org/

This article was written with the generous collaboration and input of Seattle Police Department South Precinct Community Crime Prevention officer Mark Solomon.