Prescription drug use among students is on the rise according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) DrugFacts: High School and Youth Trends. NIDA reports, “In 2012, 14.8 percent of high-school seniors used a prescription drug non-medically in the past year.”
For key facts on this issue, check out NIDA for Teens: Facts on Prescription Drugs, and in the meantime, please find the following guest post on this issue by Ryan Glassmoyer. Ryan is the Outreach Coordinator for AllTreatment.com, a substance abuse education resource. AllTreatment.com writers investigate and report on a wide range of topics concerning addcction, news and recovery. Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prescription Drugs Use Among Students by Ryan Glassmoyer
We know that high school kids experiment with mind altering substances. Marijuana is used by most, party drugs like ecstasy by some, and harder street drugs by a few; but what about prescription medications? In America there is a growing and often overlooked epidemic of youth “legal” drug use.
According to the US government’s Monitoring the Future Survey nearly 15% of high school seniors used prescription pills non-medically in 2012. Only 36% of students reported using marijuana, meaning that of the kids who are smoking pot, nearly half are probably taking prescriptions illegally too.
What prescription drugs are they taking?
The most commonly used prescriptions are the stimulant Adderall and painkiller Vicodin. Adderall is prescribed to ADD and ADHD patients. This is a common diagnosis of children, so many kids are still taking these drugs in high school and have plenty to share with their friends. Vicodin is the most commonly prescribed painkiller so apart from buying the pills illegally many students find their stash in the family medicine cabinet.
What is the danger of these drugs?
Prescription drugs are dangerous for several reasons.
First, they are dangerous to health. Effects of stimulant abuse, like Adderall, can be irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack and seizure. Effects of vicodin can be the same as any opiate like heroin. In the case of an overdose breathing can slow or even stop completely.
Second, these drugs are illegal. Many people get high on prescriptions because they don’t associate the drug as a “real” drug like ecstasy or meth. Despite misconceptions these drugs carry the same legal penalties when not used by the patient they were ordered for. DUIs, possession charges, and expulsion from school can all be punitive consequences.
What can we do about it then? One of the biggest problems with prescription abuse is its newness. There is a lack of information in both parents and kids about what these drugs really are and what using them to get high really means to someone’s life. Prescription drugs are often highly addictive. They are drugs like any other, their packaging is just different. My suggestion for battling prescription drug abuse is to stay informed. Read more about the drugs and figure out a way to start a honest and real conversation with your loved one about your concerns.