Prescription Drugs: Get The Facts!

Prescription drug abuse is more common than you think. In fact, prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. In New Hampshire 17% of teens have abused prescription drugs. And over the last ten years prescription drug abuse in New Hampshire has risen 200%. According to the NH Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, in 2011 twice as many NH citizens died from drug overdoses (200) than from car accidents (90).

Here you will find the most up-to-date information on prescription drug abuse and easy steps you can take as a parent to help protect your teen from it.

Facts You Should Know

  • Most of the prescription drugs abused by teens come from family medicine cabinets and from friends.
  • 1 out of 6 teens have used prescription drugs without a prescription.
  • 4 out of 10 teens believe that using prescription medications without a doctor's prescription is not dangerous.

How can I protect my teen?

  • Keep your prescription drugs in a locked or secure place, monitor your medicine cabinet and keep track of how many pills are in each of your prescription bottles.
  • Don’t keep unneeded medications in your home. And properly dispose of your unused prescription drugs. Find out how to safely dispose of your unused prescription drugs.
  • If your children take prescription drugs, keep control of the bottles. Talk to your school nurse about monitoring and giving your teen their medication during the school day.
  • Educate your children about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs and tell them that sharing prescription drugs is illegal.
  • Be alert – Monitor Internet use in your home. There are many sites on the Internet where prescription drugs can be purchased without a prescription.
  • Communities throughout the state take part in annual drug take back days. See if any are happening nearby.

What can happen when teens misuse prescription drugs?

  • Physical and dangerous side effects can occur like, changes in breathing that can lead to death.
  • Repeated use can lead to addiction. The body adapts to the presence of the prescription drug and withdrawal symptoms can occur when use is reduced abruptly.
  • Severe symptoms when use is stopped include: restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, and involuntary leg movements.
  • You will notice negative changes in your teen’s social, emotional and family life. 

Download “Watch your Medicine Cabinet!” a helpful fact sheet with additional tips on how you can protect your teens from prescription drug abuse.

How do I recognize prescription drug abuse?

  • Your teen has drugs (like pills) for unlikely reasons.
  • You notice prescription drugs are missing.
  • Your teen visits websites where he or she can purchase drugs or learn about drug use.
  • You notice changes in your teen’s social behavior. 

If you think your child may have a problem visit Get Help


The most important step in prevention is keeping informed. There are a number of titles available to assist you to help protect your children from prescription drugs.

  • The Misuse of Ritalin (Fact Sheet)  -- For parents of children prescribed Ritalin 
  • Watch your Medicine Cabinet! (Fact Sheet) -- For parents
  • Cough & Cold Medication can be abused! (Fact sheet)  -- For parents  
  • Dispose of your unneeded medication (Fact sheet) -- For general public 
  • Do you know where your drugs are? (Fact Sheet) -- For parents
  • Prescription and Over-The-Counter Drug Guide (Pamphlet)
Additional titles on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs are available, free to all New Hampshire residents and may be requested by phone, fax or e-mail.
  • Toll Free: 800-804-0909, press 2  
  • Phone: 603-271-2677 
  • Fax: 603-271-6105 
  • Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How can I dispose of prescription drugs?

Dispose extra, unwanted or expired prescription drugs at a local NH police department drop box or dispose of your unneeded medications by following these six steps.

  • Never flush medication down the toilet unless the product information says it is safe to do so.
  • Pour medicine into a sealable plastic bag.
  • If the medicine is a solid, add a small amount of water to dissolve it.
  • Add any undesirable substance (such as dirt, coffee grounds or kitty litter) to the liquid medicine in the plastic bag.
  • Seal the bag and immediately dispose of it in the trash for regular pick-up.
  • Use marker to black out any personal contact information on the empty medicine container prior to disposing of it in the trash
  • Visit, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services for help or assistance with safely disposing of prescription medicines.

Other Helpful Resources