The Scary Truth About Teens and Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription Drug Use Remains a Major Problem Among Adolescents

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Prescription drug misuse and abuse is a serious issue. Image courtesy of amenic181/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise among teens, and many teens and their parents are misinformed about how dangerous prescription drugs can be. One in four teens has misused or abused prescription drugs, according to a 2013 study by Drugfree.org. That’s a 33% increase over a 5 year period.

There are several different ways in which prescriptions may be abused or misused. Taking a friend’s prescription pills, for example, is one way teens abuse drugs.

At other times, they may seek out certain types of pills by buying them.

It’s also possible for teens to abuse drugs that have been prescribed to them. For example, they may take more pills than are prescribed or they may administer them in different ways, such as snorting or injecting them. Sometimes teens share their prescriptions with other people.

Frighteningly, some teens are throwing “pharm” parties. Teens raid their medicine cabinets and bring whatever pills they can find. Then, party guests share pills and create dangerous life-threatening concoctions.

Finally, some teens fake symptoms to obtain prescriptions. They may try to convince a doctor that they have difficulty concentrating or may say that they are in pain in an attempt to obtain a prescription. Then, they either abuse the drugs or sell them other people.

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Drugs Teens are Abusing

Stimulants are one of the most common drugs that teens are abusing. Drugs like Ritalin or Adderall, which are normally prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, are being taken by teens who don’t have the disorder. Teens report that it helps their academic performance and some parents are even condoning it.

Prescription pain killers, or opioids, are commonly abused as well. One in six teens report taking pain relievers like Vicodin or Oxycontin to get high.

Sometimes anti-anxiety medications are abused as well. Central nervous system depressants, like Xanax and Valium, may be misused. Like with all prescription drugs, there can be serious side effects of these pills.

Reasons Why Teens are Abusing Prescription Drugs

There are many factors that influence teens’ decisions to abuse prescription drugs. Many teens don’t believe that prescription drugs are dangerous. They presume that because doctors prescribe them, they’re safe to take, even when they misuse them. They mistakenly assume that prescription drugs are just as safe as over-the-counter medications.

Many teens have easy access to prescription drugs. They may be able to get prescriptions from friends or relatives who willingly hand them over. They may also access prescriptions by taking them out of people’s unlocked medicine cabinets.

Although parents often explain the dangers of marijuana and other drugs, many teens lack education about the dangers of prescription drugs.

In fact, many teens report their parents have given them a prescription drug that wasn’t prescribed to them at some point in their lives. Many teens also feel like their parents won’t be as upset if they’re abusing prescription drugs, as opposed to street drugs.

The main reasons teens report abusing stimulants is because they find the drugs help them focus on their school work more. They use other prescription drugs to experience a euphoric high.

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Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is very dangerous. Teens can develop a dependence on them, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. Death is another potential consequence of prescription drug abuse. 

Also, there can be very serious consequences for teens who mix prescription drugs with other drugs or alcohol. The consequences can be fatal. This is especially true when teens are injecting or snorting pills.

Abusing prescription drugs is against the law and it can have legal consequences for teens as well. Sometimes, people require professional treatment to address prescription drug problems. The seriousness of prescription drug abuse shouldn’t be underestimated.

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