Did you know that after marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused substances by teenagers and adults? Most of the time, the drugs aren’t too far out of reach- as close as the family medicine cabinet.
While this is a sobering statistic, you can help a young person in your life by having a conversation about prescription drug use. Educating yourself is the first step, which is why we’re sharing three facts about prescription drug abuse in young people. This knowledge and speaking openly about it with your pre-teen or teen, could help keep them on a positive and healthy path.
1. Prescription drug abuse doesn’t always look like “abuse.” Plainly speaking, prescription drug abuse can be defined two ways: anytime someone uses a medication that was not prescribed to them OR anytime someone uses a prescribed medication in a way that was not intended by their doctor.
It can start off innocently, perhaps in the form of an extra pill here or there. But the truth of it is, prescription drugs are highly addictive and can affect the body and brain similarly to illegal drugs and put a person at risk for overdose. Keep them in a safe place and discard extras.
2. There are three main reasons why teens might abuse prescription drugs. Research shows that peer pressure, coping, and experimentation are the primary reasons why an adolescent might begin abusing prescription drugs.
The pressure to fit in can be a major motivator in the life of a young person and coupled with the fact that being a teen is a challenging time in a person’s life, it makes sense why this age group can be at risk. However, knowing the underlying reasons behind why a teen might turn to using prescription drugs may help you approach the issue from a place of understanding.
3. Prescription drugs can appear to teens to be the “safer” option. From a teen’s point of view, prescription drugs may seem harmless. After all, they are prescribed by doctors, they’re not illegal like illicit drugs, and are easy to consume.
Educating your teen about the dangers of prescription drugs can help break down this misconception. And if you begin an open and honest conversation with them about topics like peer pressure, drug use and coping, you may be able to help them address these challenges in a safe and healthy way.
Prescription drug abuse can appear in many different forms, including different drugs. Opioids are probably what first come to mind when we think of prescription drug abuse- pain relievers like Vicodin and OxyContin. However, even prescriptions like sleep or anxiety medication along with Ritalin and other stimulants fall into the category of regularly misused drugs.
We want you to know that prescription drug abuse can be addressed, and sometimes it is best with outside support. If you’re worried your teen might be abusing prescription drugs, there are resources available to help you navigate this challenge. We are here for you and would love to be a helpful resource in any way we can!
If you have questions or would like to speak with our knowledgeable staff, contact us at The Link, (907) 789-7610, Link@jys.org.