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Prescription Drug Abuse in Adolescents

Prescription Drug Abuse

For most people, the decision to use prescription drugs is just a fact of life and most people can benefit greatly from today’s modern medicine. However, for some people using powerful prescription drugs, such as pain killers and anti-anxiety/anti-depressants, can often have the reverse effect and can lead to prescription drug addiction and dependence. The truth is, the vast majority of people who abuse prescription drugs started off taking the drugs as prescribed through a valid prescription from a doctor and became addicted and dependent on the drug over the course of their treatment.

However, because of the nature of these powerful medications, many individuals can grow physically and psychologically dependent on these drugs just after a short time. Once the drug addiction has set in it can last for an individual’s entire lifetime, as they will spend much of their lives fighting to remain sober under its constant and ominous shadow. What is even more troubling, that if people with no intention or past history of drug abuse can become so easily addicted and dependent on these powerful drugs just after a short time, what kind of terrible effects can they have on teenagers trying to use them to get high? Sadly the answer is unfolding before our eyes.

Prescription Drug Abuse amongst Teenagers

While prescription drug abuse is on the rise in almost every age demographic in this country, arguably no other age group is more susceptible to prescription drug abuse than teenagers and young adults. Not only has the rate of prescription drug abuse in adolescents risen dramatically in recent years, but it has now become the second most common cause of teenage deaths, only behind suicide.

TeensEvery single day in the United States an average of 2,500 teenagers abuse prescription drugs for the first time in their lives in an attempt to get high. In 2012, over-the-counter prescription drugs were the most commonly abused drugs amongst 12 graders, after alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. Frighteningly, it is easier for an adolescent to obtain powerful prescription pills like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Xanax, than it is for them to obtain alcohol or tobacco. Lastly, adolescents who abuse prescription drugs are also more likely to abuse other dangerous drugs such as heroin, cocaine and crystal meth.

Most Highly Abused Prescription Drugs

Currently, opiate-based pain relievers, such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet, are the most commonly abused type of prescription drug among adolescents. Close behind are central nervous depressants such as Xanax and Valium and stimulants such as Adderall. These over the counter prescription pills are often broken up and snorted for a more potent high, or taken in higher dosages and mixed with alcohol. Because these powerful prescription drugs are widely available, whether through kids at school or in their own parent’s medicine cabinet, they are being widely abused without any real knowledge of how potentially dangerous and deadly these drugs really can be.

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