How many teens are abusing prescription medications?
According to research conducted by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, at least one in four teens say they have taken a prescription medicine that was not prescribed to them.
Why are some teens doing this?
Teens are engaging in this dangerous behavior for a variety of reasons. In some cases, they do it to get high. In others, they use them to manage academic, social or emotional stress. College students often abuse prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Vyvanse, so they can focus when they’re studying or taking tests.
What are the risks?
There are both immediate and long-term risks to medicine abuse. In the short term, overdosing can be fatal. Long term, prescription opioids (pain relievers) and other prescription medicines have been proved to be potentially addictive, which can lead to a lifelong pattern of dependency.
Where are teens getting prescription medicine?
Two-thirds of teens who report abuse of prescription pain relievers are getting them from friends, family and acquaintances. Others get them from doctors for sports injuries they’ve received.
Are parents educating their children about the risks of this behavior?
According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, parents are not communicating the risks of prescription medicine abuse to their children because they are unaware of their teen’s drug abuse. In a recent study, more than 27 percent of parents have taken prescription medicine without having a prescription for it themselves. This sets a dangerous example for their children, teaching them that they don’t need to follow guidelines for proper use of prescription drugs.
WHAT SHOULD PARENTS DO?
- Educate – Visit the MedicineAbuseProject.org for information, tools, resources and support.
- Communicate – Children who learn about the risks of drugs at home are at least 20 percent less likely to use drugs than those who do not.
- Safeguard your medicine – Keep prescription medicine in a secure place, count and monitor the number of pills you have, and lock them up – and ask your friends and family members to do the same. Dispose of unused medications at an area drop box.
- Get help – If you think your child has a problem with prescription medicine abuse, call the Parents Toll-Free Helpline to speak to a parent specialist at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373).
(*Fact sheet courtesy of drugfree.org and the Medicine Abuse Project.)