Use of Painkillers Among Teens on the Rise
The latest threat in teen drug use may be lurking in your medicine cabinet. Young people's abuse of prescription drugs has surged compared to their use of illegal drugs such as marijuana and ecstasy.1 Tackle this issue and learn more about incorrect use of prescription drugs. Then, talk with your child about the dangers.
A Growing Problem
Data from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that the second most popular category of drug use after marijuana is the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. The number of persons who started using pain relievers nonmedically rose between 1985 and 2002 from about 500,000 to nearly 2.5 million.2 In fact, according to a 2004 study, about 1 in 5 teenagers abused a prescription painkiller to get high.3
By Prescription Only
Modern medicine provides a wide range of drugs that save lives and reduce pain. Before drugs can be used by the public, they are tested and approved for certain uses. For safety, many drugs are available only when ordered by a doctor.
Use as Directed
Medical supervision is vital-even a prescribed medicine may cause harm. Patients put themselves at risk if they take more than the prescribed dose, take medicine when they should not, or combine it with the wrong substances such as other drugs or alcohol.
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
Misuse or Abuse?
Misuse-Patients may forget or not understand their prescription's directions. They may start making their own decisions, perhaps upping the dose in hopes of getting better faster.
Abuse-People may use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons. Prescription drug abusers may obtain such drugs illegally and use them to get high, fight stress, or boost energy.6
Just about any prescription drug can be dangerous if it is not used correctly. However, these three types are most commonly abused:5
- Opioid painkillers such as codeine, Oxycontin�, Vicodin�, and Demerol�.
- Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which are used to treat conditions such as sleep disorders, stress, and panic attacks. Common CNS depressants include Nembutal�, Valium�, and Xanax�.
- Stimulants, which may be used to treat narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression that has not responded to other treatments. Ritalin� and Dexedrine� are commonly abused stimulants.7
Keep an eye out for prescription drugs that young people should not be taking. Warn your kids about the harm that can result from abusing prescription drugs. Be careful though-too many details may inspire kids to experiment.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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