The home medicine cabinet may be becoming the next drug dealer, as teenagers quickly resort to prescription medicine for their next high. One in six teens admit to leisurely taking prescription medicine without permission from a physician.
There are many reasons why teenagers are engaging in prescription (Rx) medicine abuse, including: to party and get high, or to manage stress and regulate their lives. Some teens are abusing prescription stimulants used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to increase their ability to focus while studying or taking a test. Some are also using pain relievers and tranquilizers to help them cope with their social, academic, and emotional stress.
Most teens get Rx medicines from their homes, or from friends and family. They even exchange medicine amongst themselves, selling pills that they have retrieved from home or from other classmates. Very few teenagers are actually prescribed with the medicines they abuse.
Prescription medicine abuse comes with many risks that most teenagers do not consider before swallowing the pill. 1) A fatal overdose can occur from taking too many pills. 2) Mixing Rx medicine with over-the-counter medicine and/or alcohol can be crucial. 3) Over time, an addiction can be developed, usually to pain relievers. Relying on Rx medicines at a young age to help "manage" life can establish a lifelong pattern of dependency and prevent teens from learning important coping skills.
Despite the outrageous teen medicine abuse statistic, doing a few things can lead to a positive change. The Medicine Abuse Project encourages everyone to take their pledge, which vows to learn about teen medicine abuse, to safeguard medicine, and to talk to teens about the issue. Medicine can be safeguarded by doing frequent medicine inventories. Also, remember to properly dispose of any expired or unused medicine by taking it to your local take-back location. If you, or anyone you know is abusing prescription drugs, call the drug free help line at 1(855)DRUGFREE from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM to talk to a clinician.
Communicate. Educate. Safeguard.
For more information about medicine abuse, visit drugfree.org or MedicineAbuseProject.org.