Why Do Teens Misuse Prescription Drugs?
Prescription drugs are meant for therapeutic use, and to be taken as prescribed, to put it simply. However, prescription drugs are also taken recreationally, which can lead to the individual developing a dependence on them, or even an addiction. How do teens fit into this picture?
The fact is that teens abuse prescription drugs frequently, second only to their misuse of Marijuana. Teens who take prescription drugs for illnesses need to be aware of the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. Just because the drug was prescribed by a doctor for a legitimate reason doesn’t make it any less dangerous than illegal drugs, if they are abused.
Teen Statistics on Prescription Drug Use
The problem with teens misusing prescription drugs is severe. Studies show that 4.6% of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 have misused prescription drugs. 8.8% of young adults aged 18 to 25 misused prescription drugs.
The approximate number of emergency room visits each day during for drug-related reasons for teens from 12 to 17 is as follows:
- pain relievers – 74
- antidepressants – 32
- benzodiazepines – 31
- ADD or ADHD medications – 11
There are many factors that lead to teens misusing prescription drugs. They can be misinformed about the drug, or have misconceptions about its use and consequences. Or it can be part of a teen’s risk taking behavior. Some other reasons can include enjoying taking the drug either physically or psychologically, peer pressure, and just the fact that the drugs are available easily.
Young people also tend to believe that prescription drugs are safe to use, and that they are non addictive. They may not realise that using a prescription drug without a prescription is actually illegal.
Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse
Parents and responsible adults in the teen’s life need to get educated about what symptoms to look for if they suspect that the teen is misusing prescription drugs. Some possible symptoms to look for are:
- Lowered grades at school
- Bloodshot or glazed eyes
- Abrupt changes in appetite
- Continued fatigue
- General health complaints
- Secretive behavior
- Sudden mood swings
- Other unexplained physical, behavioral or emotional changes
Even if the teen is not misusing drugs, it is a good idea for parents to have a preventative talk with their teen. The teen needs to learn the importance of using all medications correctly and as prescribed and know that they can be dangerous if taken wrongly. They should be taught about the risks of drug use, possible side effects, and understand that they are responsible for safe use. Parents should also encourage their teen to be open and communicative with them and ask for help if they or a friend has a problem with drugs.
Lead Recovery Center provides hope and healing after addiction. We support young men who are addicted prescription drugs to quit and start fresh. If you’re ready to give up an addiction or have a loved one ready to quit, call us at (800) 380-0012.