When most people think of teens and drug abuse, they conjure up thoughts of cocaine, heroin, MDMA, and other illegal drugs at raging high school parties. The truth about teens and drug abuse, however, is quite a different one. Some of the drugs most commonly abused by teens are, in fact, prescription drugs.
What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
When a person takes medication without a prescription, in a way other than as prescribed, or with the intention of getting high, he or she is abusing prescription drugs.
What Kinds of Prescription Drugs Are Most Commonly Abused?
Opioids, like OxyContin and Vicodin, depressants like Xanax and Valium, and stimulants like Concerta and Adderall are the most frequently abused prescription drugs. Over-the-counter drugs like dextromethorphan can also be used to get high, if they are used in large, dangerous doses.
The Reality of Prescription Drug Abuse
Teen drug abuse of prescription medication is a fairly prevalent problem. Every day, about 2,000 teenagers abuse prescription drugs for the first time. About 14.8% of all high school seniors have abused prescription medication in the last year, and are more likely to use other drugs.
Where Are Teens Getting Prescription Drugs?
Most are obtaining them from friends and relatives, usually without their knowledge. Half of all high school seniors said that opioids other than heroin, like Vicodin, would be fairly or very easy to get.
What Can Prescription Drug Abuse Lead To?
There are many short and long term health consequences. Abuse of stimulants can cause paranoia, high body temperature, and irregular heartbeat. Abuse of opioids can cause drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and slowed breathing. Abuse of depressants can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, fatigue, disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures. Abuse of any of these medications can cause drug addiction symptoms.
How Can I Help a Friend with a Prescription Drug Addiction?
It’s not easy to talk to someone you love about a drug problem. Sometimes, the best solution is drug addiction counseling or drug addiction rehab. Teens and drug abuse is a very real problem, and it often requires serious action.
The reality of teens and drug abuse involves little orange bottles just as often, if not more frequently than it involves illicit street drugs. Both are serious, however, and both should be treated with care.