Teens and prescription drugs
Teens and prescription drugs
Prescription drugs like Adderall, Roxicodone, Valium, and Vicodin are the new source of deadly teen drug abuse. Experts estimate that 20% of teens have used prescription drugs to get high. Most teens that abuse prescription drugs find them in a parent or grandparent’s medicine cabinet. Many teens are getting high at school and engaging in the selling and distribution of prescription drugs to their friends and classmates. Many teens perceive prescription drugs to be safer than street drugs because they are manufactured by professionals. Prescription drugs are extremely addictive, and very dangerous, especially when taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs.
Teens and prescription drugs: Pharm Parties
“Pharm Parties” is a term coined by the media to describe parties being thrown by teens where prescription drugs are exchanged and ingested. Allegedly, the party host combines different prescription pills in a bowl and teens grab them at random without knowing what they are taking. While these parties have garnered a lot of media attention, there isn’t a lot of evidence that they are actually happening. The more likely scenario is that prescription drugs are now readily available at teen parties along with booze and marijuana.
Teens and prescription drugs: Study drugs
The United States has seen a surge in the legal supply and use of amphetamine- type attention deficit medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall. Doctors are diagnosing patients with ADHD with increasing frequency, and the number of prescriptions of these types of medications has risen dramatically. With more individuals having access to these types of medications, diversion becomes more common. The sale of ADHD medications between students has become a widespread problem on high school and college campuses throughout the US. Experts estimate that over a third of college students have used ADHD medications without a prescription.
Teens and prescription drugs: Painkillers
The most commonly abused prescription drugs are narcotic painkillers, namely hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Hydro-Apap, etc.), oxycodone (Percodan, Percocet, Tylox, Roxicet, OxyContin, etc.), and codeine (Tylenol #3 & #4, Apap with Codeine, etc.), respectively. These drugs are classified as opiates, because they are derived from the opium plant. Opiates work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. They bind to the same receptors that our bodies’ natural painkillers bind to. After prolonged opiate use, the body stops producing natural painkillers, resulting in opiate dependency. Opiates are such powerful narcotics that the body can become dependent on them even when they prescribed by a physician for the treatment of pain and are taken in the prescribed dosage.
Twenty-five years ago, doctors did not prescribe opioid pain medication for non-malignant chronic pain out of fear of addiction. These medications were reserved for those suffering from cancer or other terminal diseases. In the 90’s, a shift occurred in the medical community and the focus turned to improving patient quality of life. Prescription drug manufacturers spent millions on marketing and developing new drugs to treat pain. With these prescription drugs flooding the market, prescription drug abuse in the US began to increase exponentially.
Teens are not immune to this trend. With more doctors prescribing, more pills are available for diversion. Plus, teens are more likely than ever before to find prescription painkillers in a parent or grandparents medicine cabinet.
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