Recently, the results of a research study centering on teens and prescription drug abuse were presented at the annual meeting of the American Pain Society. The findings of this study were deeply disturbing and included the fact that as many as one in 10 teens has abused prescription drugs and that, worse yet, those teens who had were at an increased risk for other dangerous behaviors. Teens who had admitted to abusing prescription drugs were found to be more likely to:
- Carry a weapon to school
- Abuse steroids
- Abuse heroin
- Abuse marijuana
- Abuse cocaine
- Drive under the influence of alcohol
- Engage in binge drinking
Clearly, prescription drug abuse among teens is a serious problem, but it’s one that can be prevented.
If You Have Prescription Drugs in the Home
Most teens who abuse prescription drugs get those drugs in their own homes. Parents, siblings, and other family members who are prescribed prescription drugs for legitimate purposes can be prime sources for experimenting with, abusing, and eventually becoming dependent on prescription drugs. If you keep prescription drugs in your home, there are things you can do to keep your teen from accessing them and to discover if your teen is doing so:
- Be aware of the number of pills in each bottle and the number of pills you use in order to easily identify when pills are missing.
- Take note of how often you’re refilling your prescription(s).
- Control prescribed medication usage for teens (e.g., be in charge of dispensing the medication, refilling the prescription, etc.).
- Hide prescription medications and/or keep them in a locked box.
- Throw away unused or expired prescription medications immediately, preferably hidden underneath other trash or in another location.
- Shred prescriptions after use.
Know the Warning Signs
Though you may be able to keep a careful watch over the medications in your own home, teens may still access prescription medications at friends’ houses or by buying them from dealers, many of whom are also teens. Therefore, simply controlling the medication in your home isn’t enough to keep your teen safe. You also need to be aware of the signs of prescription drug abuse in adolescents and to be watchful for them in your own child. Possible warning signs include:
- Spending more time alone/avoiding family and friends
- A loss of interest in hobbies and activities once enjoyed
- Uncontrollable mood swings
- Deep disdain for rules or being controlled
- Irritability and increasing, often unexplainable, crying
- Problems at school, including a decline in grades
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Disobedience and disrespect
If you notice these warning signs in your teen, it is worth it to confront him or her. If your teen can’t or won’t stop abusing prescription pills, contact us at Newport Academy. The sooner you can get help for him or her, the better.