There are a number of National studies that have looked at drug abuse among teenagers. Marijuana continues to one of the most commonly used drugs but the new trend appears to be prescription pills. The following statistics is from the Office of National Drug Control. The intentional use of prescription pills, such as sedatives, pain relievers, tranquilizers, and stimulants, is the growing concern in the United States. Prescription drug use among ages 12 – 17 have become the second most illegal drug behind marijuana.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy there are three classes of prescription drugs that are commonly abused:
1) Opioids – Codeine, Oxycodone, and Morphine
2) Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants – Barbiturates and Benzodiazepine
3) Stimulants – Dextroamphetamine and Methylphenidate
Teenagers are viewing these drugs as a medically safe high. Teens can find prescription drugs easily from the internet, through e-mail, and also from family and friends. Generally these prescription drugs are easy to get and can be sold or traded for other drugs. Pain relievers like OxyContin and Vicodin are the most commonly abused drugs by teenagers.
Nearly 1 in 5 teenagers report abusing prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them. One-third of teens believe there is nothing wrong with using prescribed medication (not prescribed to them) once in a while and nearly three out of ten teens believe prescribed pain relievers are not addictive. Nearly one-third of teenagers feel pressure from their peers to abuse prescription and illegal drugs and nine percent admit it is an important part of fitting in.
In 2004, more than 29 percent of teens in treatment were there for prescription drug dependence. In the last decade prescription drug abuse has increased and the number of teens going into treatment has increased by 300 percent. More 12 – 17 year olds than young adults became dependent on or abused prescription drugs in the past year and teens that abuse drugs for the first time before the age of 16 has a greater risk of dependency later in life.
The increasing prescription drug abuse has become alarming. As parents it is our responsibility to make sure we are not making it easy for our teens to get a hold of our medications, to make sure we are cleaning out our medicine closets of all old prescription meds, and to monitor the medication our teen is prescribed making sure they are not selling it or abusing it. So many times teenagers will abuse their own medications or sell them to friends. They will trade them for other street drugs or marijuana. Parents should be aware of this trend with teens. It is more difficult to test for prescription pill abuse which make it easier for teens to abuse. It is our job as parents to educate our teens on the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.