Teens Who Are Closer to Parents Are Less Likely to Abuse Prescription Drugs, Says Study
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are attempting to better understand what motivates teen prescription drug abuse, a problem that is rapidly increasing in the US each year. The results published in the Journal of Primary Prevention analyzed the factors in a teen’s life that may heighten or reduce their risk for abusing prescription medications.
The study included 54,000 students in both junior high and high school across the border regions of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Information collected in the 2009 to 2010 Pride Survey by the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati was utilized and found that 13.7 percent of students surveyed had used prescription drugs without their doctors’ knowledge. The researchers found the following factors increased the risk of prescription drug abuse:
- High school (as opposed to the junior high kids in the survey)
- Friendships with peers who abuse drugs
- Use of alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana
In addition to risk factors, the researchers also looked for factors that seem to provide a buffer against experimentation with prescription drugs. There have been few studies to look into protective factors involving teen prescription drug addiction, so the results are some of the first of their kind.
Positive Social Interactions Are Best Deterrent for Teen Prescription Drug Abuse
The research team found that pro-social behaviors and interactions significantly reduced the teens’ odds of prescription drug abuse. These positive social behaviors included:
- Close connection with parents. A strong relationship where parents can discuss drug abuse and its dangers was a key factor in teens choosing not to abuse prescriptions.
- Good feelings towards teachers and school. Positive connection with academic life kept kids on the straight and narrow.
- Friends who disapprove of drug abuse. When peers do not agree with drug use, this attitude can influence a teen’s behavior.
Prescription Drugs No Safer Than Street Drugs for Teens
The researchers found that many teens are choosing to experiment with prescription drugs under the false assumption that they are safer than other illicit drug options. Prescription drugs taken without the knowledge of a doctor can have deadly consequences. In fact, more people die every year from prescription painkiller overdose than from any other drug of abuse. Even taking non-prescribed medications a few times can cause the following medical complications:
- Difficulty breathing
- Cardiac arrest
The results of this survey show that it is vital for parents to talk with their kids about these potential risks for both prescription and street drugs.
Have you talked to your teen about drug and alcohol abuse? What was their response? Share your experience below.