Monday, May 26, 2014

The Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse in Teens

Imagine you are talking to your significant other about a prescription medication you take that makes you really drowsy. You don’t realize it, but your teenager is in the next room and overhears you. She hasn’t been sleeping well lately and she thinks maybe your medication can help her sleep better. She secretly starts taking your medication at night when she has trouble sleeping.

Would you consider this safe?
It is important to know that it is NEVER safe to take a prescription medication that is not prescribed to you. These days, prescription medications are a lot easier to get a hold of than illegal drugs which makes teens more inclined to get them. But just because they might be easier to get does not mean that they are safe to take.

Prescription drug abuse is a major issue facing the United States today. Not only can it lead to drug poisoning but also drug addiction. Prescriptions most commonly abused include opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants. These drugs essentially act as poisons in the body depending on the amount a person ingests. This means abusing prescription medications can be fatal.
Where are teens getting these drugs?

Most teens are getting prescription medications from medicine cabinets of family, friends and acquaintances.  A very small portion of teens are getting them from doctors, pharmacists or over the internet.

What can you do to help prevent drug abuse/drug poisonings?
If you are a parent, talk to your kids about medication drug abuse and the dangers associated with misuse. Teens who learn about the risks of drug use are 50% less likely to use drugs according to It is also a good idea to safeguard medications by keeping them in a secure place.

If you or someone you know becomes ill from medication use, misuse or abuse, please contact the Poison Control Center help line for assistance. The Texas Poison Center Network is available 24/7 to help with any questions or concerns. All calls are answered by a nurse, doctor or pharmacist. Program this number into your phone for when you need it: 1-800-222-1222. The call is free, peace of mind is priceless!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TPCN Spotlight: Melody Gardner, North Texas Poison Control Center

This week’s blog will showcase one of our six poison control center managing directors. Here you will find out why they love their job and why poison control services are important to them.

Melody Gardner is the North Texas Poison Control Center Managing Director.

Tell me your history with poison control. How long have you worked there/what is your background: I have a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration and Nursing Administration. I started my career as a Registered Nurse and then completed training to become a Trauma Nurse Clinician at Parkland hospital, where I cared for some of the most critically ill trauma and burn patients in the North Texas area. I have been at the North Texas Poison Center for four years, starting out as a manager and then moving into my current position as Managing Director in 2012.

What do you think is one of the most important aspects of poison control services? The Poison Centers not only assist with day to day poisoning situations, both in the home and in health care settings, but we also actively monitor any new trends, such as the new designer drugs popular amongst teens. Poison Centers are often the ones who hear of new, dangerous products before anyone else. We also are experts in disaster preparedness and handle phone calls related to potential dangers at large events in our area.

What do you enjoy most about your job and why? As a parent, I know how important it is to get the quickest, most reliable information to care for your child. I enjoy my job because by overseeing the operations of the Poison Center, I feel like I help contribute to making a difference in the lives of the people we serve. I believe in what the staff at the Poison Center does on a daily basis, because oftentimes, the relief you can sense from a mother’s voice on the phone is a reward in itself.

What do you think the public needs to know regarding poison control? The public should know that no question is stupid and our highly trained staff is not here to judge you, they are here to help and offer you the best medical advice they can. The call is free, peace of mind is priceless! We have doctors, nurses and pharmacists available 24/7/365.

Share a funny story here that might have happened on the job. One of our specialists received a call from a school nurse asking about how to clean up after a student had a case of smallpox. We questioned her about the case and discussed that it probably wasn’t smallpox (since that disease has been eradicated in the U.S.) After she insisted that it was smallpox, our specialist used a code in our computer system that indicates there was a case of smallpox. About 10 minutes later, I was receiving phone calls through the real-time surveillance system at the CDC asking what was going on in Texas with small pox. Needless to say, it made for an interesting discussion.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana

Despite current laws, Synthetic Marijuana remains a concern. Street names include K2, Spice, and No More Mr. Nice Guy, to name a few. Even though these drugs are called synthetic marijuana, in reality, they are very different from marijuana and can cause dangerous health effects. One of the scariest things about these synthetic drugs is often times the ingredients are not listed on the product so a user really has no idea what they are ingesting, and neither do the health experts.   

Here is an example of synthetic marijuana
Not only are these synthetic drugs very dangerous, but they can also be very addictive. Some alarming health effects from using these drugs include:

  • Severe agitation and anxiety.
  • Fast, racing heartbeat and high blood pressure.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors.
  • Intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes.
  • Suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers states that these drugs were first reported in the U.S. in 2009. Poison centers throughout the U.S. received 5,230 calls about exposures to these drugs in 2012 and 2,643 exposures in 2013.

What should you do if someone has used synthetic marijuana?

Call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Fifty-six poison centers around the country have experts waiting to answer your call. These experts can help you decide whether someone can be treated at home, or whether he or she must go to a hospital.

Dial 9-1-1 immediately if someone

  • Stops breathing. 
  • Collapses. 
  • Has a seizure.
For more information, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.  Poison centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year for poisoning emergencies and for informational calls, too.