Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Identifying Prescription Pills

“It’s not mine, Mom.”

“I don’t know what it is, Dad. I’ve never seen it before.”

These are likely the answers you’ll get if you find miscellaneous and unidentified pills in your son’s belongings. It can leave you in a nerve-wracking predicament. How do you figure out what type of pills your son is using? And how many other substances is he experimenting with that could be harmful to his health?

Remember that if you have a pill in your possession and are in need of identifying it, you are in a better position than you were yesterday for two reasons. One, you have clear evidence in your hand that your son is abusing drugs. There is no doubt that he needs help and that you need to take action. For many parents, the question of whether or not their child is actually using drugs, or if it has reached a crisis point that requires intervention, defines an excruciating and long period of their life. For you, there is no question about how to proceed: You must first identify the pill and then go about getting your son the help he needs to find sobriety.

Two, you are not guessing about the substance of abuse that your son is using. You can identify the pill and learn whether or not he is using opiates, benzodiazepines or stimulants. If he is using drugs regularly, he may have developed a dependence upon this type of drug. It can help you to better recognize the signs when he is under the influence and determine what types of addiction treatment services are most appropriate in his case.

If you would like to learn more about your options in rehabilitation for your son, we can help you here at Muir Wood. Our boy-centered teen substance abuse program can assist your son in the immediate cessation of drug use and teach him the skills he needs to choose sobriety for the long-term.

Your Medicine Cabinet

In many cases, teens first abuse the drugs they find among their parents’ or grandparents’ medications. You may not even remember that you kept the excess pills from a prescription you received from the dentist after oral surgery four years ago or that your husband may still have a dozen or more pills leftover from a painkiller prescription given to him after he threw his back out in a skiing accident. If it’s not a chronic problem for you or anyone in your family, then it may not occur to you that the pills you found in your son’s pocket actually came from your house. Do a complete inventory of your medicine cabinet. Does the pill match anything you have stored? Do you recall a medication you were given? Were you prescribed hydrocodone, oxycodone, or other drugs? Use this information to help you in identifying the pill you found.

Additionally, if your extended family is local, consider the prescriptions they may have in their medicine cabinets. Is Aunt Rhoda taking Valium for anxiety? Does Grandpa take OxyContin for chronic pain? Is anybody undergoing cancer treatment? Your teen may have taken the medications of family members while visiting.

Your Pharmacist

Chances are that if your teen is not getting his pills from your medicine cabinet, he is getting them from a friend who got them from his parents’ medicine cabinet. It’s not necessary for you to question everyone your son knows in order to determine what the pill is. Take it to your pharmacy and see if the pharmacist on duty can definitively identify the pill.

Online Drug Databases

There are a number of online databases that can help you to identify any pills that you find in your son’s possession. They offer pictures as well as information about dosage and effect. Some will also aid you in identifying the signs that your son may be under the influence of these pills. Some of these databases include:

Some allow you to enter a color, size, or imprint to help you narrow down your search while others provide a database of pictures that you can search through and match what you have to the online information. The US FDA even provides a non-emergency service that will assist you in identifying pills that you find via email.

Help Your Son Beat Prescription Drug Addiction

Inadvertent overdose on prescription drugs takes more lives in this country than car accidents do. If you find prescription pills in your son’s possessions, be proactive. Contact us at Muir Wood today for information about intervention and treatment measures that can put your son back on the right track.