Teen Prescription Drug Abuse
It is easy for teens and young adults to believe that medications prescribed by a doctor are safe, even if used without permission or a prescription. Unfortunately, this is not true! There are specific terms and situations in which prescriptions drugs should be prescribed. Teen prescription drug abuse can have life-threatening consequences, including development issues, ongoing addiction, or death from overdose.
Some of the short- and long-term health consequences include:
- Stimulants have side effects in common with cocaine, and may include paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, and an irregular heartbeat, especially if stimulants are taken in large doses or in ways other than swallowing a pill.
- Opioids, which act on the same parts of the brain as heroin, can cause drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and, depending on the amount taken, slowed breathing.
- Depressants can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, fatigue, disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures upon withdrawal from chronic use.
Why Teens Try Prescription Drugs
There are many reasons that teens seek out and try prescription drugs. Some of these include:
- Self-medication to alleviate pain, anxiety, insomnia, and more
- Improve appearance or physical performance
- Enhance attention span or academic performance
- To get high or experiment; often combined with alcohol
- To escape unhappy or stressful situations
Where Can Teens Find Drugs
Unfortunately, prescription drugs are very easy for teens to find. Some of these include:
- 46 percent obtained the drugs free from a friend or relative
- 20 percent bought or took the drugs from a friend or relative
- 19 percent got the drug from only one doctor
- 5 percent bought the medication from a drug dealer or other stranger
- 0.2 percent reported buying the drug on the Internet
Why Teen Prescription Drug Abuse is a Concern
Prescription drugs can be habit-forming and can cause physical and psychological dependence and addiction. Ongoing use and abuse can result in addiction, dangerous side effects, or overdose. For example:
- The abuse of a prescription painkiller can cause physical addiction in a short amount of time; common side effects include nausea, lack of energy, lack of concentration and apathy.
- Prescription depressants can slow down your respiratory system and blood pressure; causing you to stop breathing and lead to a coma; common side effects include loss of coordination, poor concentration, dizziness and slurred speech
- Stimulants, such as Ritalin, can cause you to have an anxiety attack and speed up your heart rate resulting in a heart attack or convulsions; common side effects include aggression, suicidal or homicidal tendencies, vomiting, tremors and excessive sweating.
Teen prescription drug abuse is real and more common than any of us would like. If you believe that your teen has been experimenting with or abusing prescription drugs, then we can help.