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Tuesday, April 16 2019
Prescription Drug Abuse in Teenagers

     We occasionally hear from parents that a drug test “was wrong” because it detected amphetamines on the test, and their child only takes Adderall by prescription! While we calmly explain that our tests have no way of knowing whether or not you have a prescription, it is obvious that we all should be more aware of prescription drug abuse. Just because it isn’t made in a crack house doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous or addictive. Just because a doctor prescribes it doesn’t mean it is good for you- but alas, that is a soapbox for another day!

     Misuse of prescription opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants is rampant among teenagers. An estimated 18 million people have misused such medications at least once in the past year.

     The reasons for the high prevalence of prescription drug misuse vary by age, gender, and other factors, but likely include ease of access. The number of prescriptions for some of these medications has increased dramatically since the early 1990s. Misinformation about the addictive properties of prescription opioids and the perception that prescription drugs are less harmful than illicit drugs are other possible contributors to the problem.Although misuse of prescription drugs affects many Americans, certain populations such as youth and older adults may be at particular risk.

     After alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco, prescription drugs are among the most commonly abuse drugs by 12th graders. At the top of that list, they abuse the stimulant Adderall or other ADHD medications, and there is much misuse of the opioid pain reliever Vicodin(hydrocodone).

     It is almost a guarantee that if your child takes ADD medication or has had recent oral surgery or a broken bone- they have had offers from other kids to purchase their prescriptions! Most kids that use drugs say that they either bought or received the drugs from a friend or relative, and of course many will pilfer medicine cabinets wherever they can.

     Teens who misuse prescription medications are also more likely to abuse other drugs. Multiple studies have revealed associations between prescription drug misuse and higher rates of cigarette smoking; heavy episodic drinking; and marijuana, cocaine, and other illicit drug use among U.S. adolescents, young adults, and college students. In the case of prescription opioids, receiving a legitimate prescription for these drugs during adolescence is also associated with a greater risk of future opioid misuse, particularly in young adults who have little to no history of drug use.

     Our advice is that you learn about these pharmaceutical drugs and their effects, Lock up you medications and encourage your siblings, parents, and friends to do the same. Teach kids from a young age why drug abuse is dangerous, and of course- test regularly. There is no greater deterrent that the harsh consequences of being caught (think of it like you are a cop with a radar gun). Most importantly, do not stick your head in the sand!

Posted by: Kim AT 12:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email