Prescription Drug Abuse in Teens

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Prescription drug use is on the rise…big time!

What Prescription Drugs Your Teen is Taking? Prescription drugs are the Number 1 killer of teens…Number 1.  This past year, for the first time in history, more teens died from prescription drug overdoses than from automobile fatalities. There is no sign that this trend is going to slow unless something is done.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “After marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most commonly misused substances by Americans age 14 and older. Teens misuse prescription drugs for a number of reasons, such as to get high, to stop pain, or because they think it will help them with school work. Many teens get prescription drugs they misuse from friends and relatives, sometimes without the person knowing.”

The most commonly abused prescription drug that lands teens in treatment, the ER, or the morgue is Oxycontin or oxycodone.  Oxycontin is an opioid pain reliever that was originally created to treat cancer patients on hospice so that they could die without pain… Now pain clinics that dole this stuff out like candy are just as common in Florida as the marijuana clinics are in California.  If you have cash and a sprained ankle, you can score some pain meds.

Statistics of Prescription Drug Abuse

One example of the drastic increase in the abuse of pain medication is in Fairfield County, Ohio.  In May of this year, opioid addiction accounted for 67 percent of patients in treatment, up from 4 percent in 2000!  Hello, that is almost 17 times more patients due to one classification of a drug! Red flag? I think so!

Another example is provided to us by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who provide unparalleled data and research.  The yearly number of Emergency Room visits linked to the abuse of prescription pain relievers rose from 144,644 in 2004 to 305,885 in 2008.  That is a 111 percent increase.  Yes, another red flag.  Guess which drug was most common?  Yep, oxycodone.  Oxycodone related visits were up 152 percent over 4 years and accounted for 35 percent of the visits. Red flag.  The number two increase was hydrocodone, up 123 percent. According to the CDC, ER visits for prescription drugs are just as common as visits for illicit drugs. Personally, I think they are more common, but then again, there are some very large pharmaceutical companies that are working very hard to not let all these numbers become common knowledge.

Where do the kids get their drugs?  It’s not only from their friends and relatives but also right in the family home. Most teens say their parents’ medicine cabinets… Do you know what’s in your medicine cabinet?  Go check right now and properly dispose of ANY medication that you are not currently taking. If you do take any narcotics, lock them away so that your children cannot access them.

If you know a teen that is abusing prescription medication and may need rehabilitation, please contact Newport Academy today. We are always here to help—day or night. Even if we feel our facility is not the right one for your son or daughter, we are here to help you find the best possible solution to bring your family back together.