Prescription Drugs Highly Abused by American Adoclescents

By December 5, 2012October 26th, 2013No Comments

Perscription Addiction 1Concern over youth getting drugs off the “street” is taking more of a back seat today in comparison to the numbers of teens who are using prescription medications found in their own homes.  Adolescents have been abusing prescription medications in place of illicit drugs at higher levels than ever before, many under the assumption that they are safer since most prescriptions are obtained legally through a physician. But legal certainly doesn’t equal safe – especially if the drugs are not used as prescribed.

Per a report detailed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 70 percent of high school seniors using prescription narcotics relayed that they had obtained them from friends or family members. After marijuana, the most commonly abused drugs by kids in this age group were prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Data points to widespread availability of such drugs as part of the problem – accessibility has dramatically increased over the past several years. In the near 10 year period spanning from 1991 to 2010, stimulant prescriptions rose from 5 to 45 million, and opioid scripts also increased during this period from about 76 million to nearly 210 million.

Statistics show that 1 out of every 12 students in their last year of senior high has misused Vicodin, while figures for OxyContin abuse were 1 in 20. This is particularly alarming given the highly addictive nature of opioids and risk for overdose – fatal opioid overdoses currently surpass that of cocaine and heroin combined. Abusing drugs in the stimulant category can also result in serious health outcomes, including seizures, heart problems, and psychosis. Not only is the abuse of prescriptions dangerous, it has also been tied to increased likelihood of other types of risky conduct including abusing alcohol and other drugs.

In many cases, a teen who is abusing prescription drugs may have undiagnosed and untreated depression, anxiety disorder or another type of mood disorder that can be masked by the prescription drug abuse problem. For more information about help for teens who may have symptoms of mental illness, contact the mental health professionals at Family Guidance Center.