Teens, Drugs and Online Pharmacies

There was a day you gave birth to a child that you believed was your heart and soul and you would protect that child from all the bad things in this world.  From infancy to toddler to elementary school and hanging that beautiful finger painting artwork up on your refrigerator door, the joy and pride of parenthood kept growing.

Then we start the tweenage era.  That middle-school itch.  The peer pressure, the "where do I belong" and "who will be my friend" in the lunchroom. 

Today life growing up from a child to a tween to a teen is escalated by technology of the digital access that kids have today.  It is like they are growing up in the Jetson generation only hundred times faster.  It is advised that parents should have the "tech talk" with their kids even before the "sex talk."  That is a strong indicator of the importance of how cyber-life has taken over our lives--both young and old.

Drug dealers have figured this out too.  Your teenager can purchase drugs illegally from online pharmacies, unfortunately, rather easily.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people in America die from an overdose of prescription drugs than from heroin and cocaine combined.  This is why organizations like StopMedicineAbuse.org are so important in helping educate parents to the issue of a teen's access to narcotics and other drugs both in your home and online.  

Digital Citizens Alliance released a new study that 31% of students take prescription drugs to get through finals.   That is 1 in 3 students that obtain these drugs without prescription from a doctor.  15% of students have or have a friend that have ordered these drugs online and 71% of these students parents believe it is common for students to share prescription drugs.

Prescription drug use and over the counter medicine use is an issue that we need to take very seriously and it starts from the moment your child is old enough to have their own keypad; whether it comes in the form of a cell phone with a data plan or a computer or tablet.  They are now potentially open targets to online drug dealers in combination with peer pressure.

Most parents know that communication is key to prevention.  Keeping an open dialog with your child is crucial in helping them with peer pressure and making choices that can affect their future.

Let's look at some tips that parents may not be as familiar with:

 Do you know what your teen is saying?  Listen or watch on texts or emails for code words for certain drug lingo. Skittling, Tussing, Skittles, Robo-tripping, Red Devils, Velvet, Triple C, C-C-C-, Robotard are some of the names kids use for cough and cold medication abuse.  Weed, Pot, Ganja, Mary Jane, Grass, Chronic, Buds, Blunt, Hootch, Jive stick, Ace, Spliff, Skunk, Smoke, Dubie, Flower, Zig Zag are all slang for marijuana. Go online for the Teen Drug Slang Dictionary.
 Monitor, monitor, monitor.  Especially if you suspect your teen is using substances, it is imperative you closely monitor their digital activities.  Their computer history, cell phone calls and text messages (and remember, you are paying the bills, you can have the phone as well as their passwords), as well as who they are hanging out with both online and off.
 Leftovers.  Are there empty medicine wrappers or bottles, burn marks on their clothes or rug, ashes, stench, etc in their room or if they own a car, in their car? Teens either take several pills or smash them so all of it is released at once.  Be sure to check all pockets, garbage cans, cars, closets, under beds, etc. for empty wrappers and other evidence of drug use.  Where are your prescription drugs?  Have you counted them lately?
Online pharmacies and YouTube. Online pharmacies are a huge concern for parents of teenagers. RYAN's Cause is a tragic example of how easy it is to obtain illegal drugs online and the deadly consequences.  Did you know that Google was under criminal investigation for aiding and abetting the sale of illegal drugs and eventually paid half a billion dollars to settle the case ? 

Now state Attorneys General are looking into Google's role in continuing to make money from this illegal and dangerous online commerce.   Attorney General Hood said that the violators were easy to find, "On every check we have made, Google's search engine gave us easy access to illegal goods, including websites which offer dangerous drugs without a prescription, counterfeit goods of every description," he said.  Teens are savvy, and so are the drug dealers.  Leave a door open, and they will find a way in. 

Although Google claims to have rectified this issue, Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) alleges that Google is still allowing access to the illegal pharmacies that peddle these drugs through YouTube, which is owned by Google. They say that Google continues to make money from this activity by selling ads to legitimate brands that show up on YouTube.  

Though Google may say that its policies prohibit illegal videos that help teens or others gain access to illegal drugs without prescriptions, the truth is that Google has very little incentive to take down this content that drives traffic to YouTube, especially YouTube mobile.  Bloomberg reported that YouTube revenue tripled in the past six months due to increase mobile advertising sales.   We all know how teens love their cell phones and how much time they spend on YouTube.   

In fact, a recent study said that 93% of teens check YouTube each week.  With a that high of a percentage of teens on YouTube the risk of your teen stumbling on an online pharmacy ad is probably high.  Learn more about this.  It is worth your time.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

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